UEFA Europa League

Atalanta v Marseille: Why to Lay Serie A side on home soil

Gabon and Marseille striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Marseille will look to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to lead the charge this week

Back the French underdogs in the Europa League semi-final second leg in Italy on Thursday night, writes James Eastham...

  • Opposing the Serie A hosts makes sense

  • Atalanta too short to claim the win

  • Underrated 'OM' deserve support

Atalanta vs Marseille
Thursday 9 May 20:00
Live on TNT Sports 3

All-square after the first leg

Underdogs Marseille are the smart selection ahead of their trip to face Atalanta on Thursday night.

The Ligue 1 side matched their Serie A opponents in the first leg, a 1-1 draw at Stade Velodrome last week.

On the night, there was virtually nothing to pick between the sides, with a draw a fair result at the end of 90 absorbing minutes.

On various metrics, e.g. shots on target (14 vs 9) and expected goals (0.88 vs 0.73), Marseille, or 'l'OM', as they're also often called, might argue they had marginally the better of the contest.

Based on how the two sides played last week and on team news ahead of this return fixture - Marseille will be a little stronger as centre-back Samuel Gigot returns from suspension and first-choice left-back Quentin Merlin, who appeared only as a substitute last week, is now fit enough to play for 90 minutes - another close contest looks likely.

Odds favour Marseille

Yet the prices tell a different story. Whereas last week the market correctly predicted a close encounter - Marseille were 2.6813/8 to win, with Atalanta 2.8815/8, and The Draw 3.55/2 - the odds are very different this time.

Atalanta are 1.84/5 to win, while Marseille are 4.94/1, and The Draw is 4.1. Put another way, the market gives Atalanta a 56 per cent chance of winning in 90 minutes, just seven days after Marseille demonstrated that they were able to match the Serie A outfit.

Did Atalanta really underperform and Marselle overperform last week to the extent that this change in odds would suggest? Will home advantage really tip the balance so dramatically in Atalanta's favour, i.e. from a 35 per cent chance of winning at Stade Velodrome last week, to a 56 per cent chance of winning at their Stadio di Bergamo this week?

We don't believe so. While Atalanta are deservedly favourites to win the second leg, their price looks too short.

Atalanta are overrated

Since the start of March, Atalanta's record in all competitions is W7-D4-L4. Those stats are respectable, yet their win rate across those 15 matches is below 50 per cent.

During the same time frame, Marseille's record is W6-D2-L5, i.e. not outstanding, but suggestive, in the same way that their performance was last week, of a side that should hold its own.

To anyone watching Marseille closely this year, it's also obvious that they've reserved their better performances and highest levels of commitment for European fixtures.

In the last 16, they were the better side against Villarreal over two legs (5-3 aggregate win). In the quarter-finals against Benfica, they matched the Portuguese giants before eventually winning on penalties.

Given the prices available in the Match Odds market, our advice would be to lay Atalanta at 1.824/5. By doing so, you'll make a profit if Marseille win, or if the game ends in a draw in 90 minutes.

For those looking to support Marseille in a more conservative manner, the Asian Handicap market provides the best opportunity to do so. Marseille +0.5 & +1.0 is available at 1.9520/21.

With this selection - the same as if you lay Atalanta - you'll make a profit if Marseille win or if the game ends in a draw. Additionally with this pick, however, you'll lose only half your stakes if Marseille lose by a single goal on the night. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.

Lay Atalanta @ 1.824/5

Bet here

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James' European 2023-24 P/L

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Returned: +23.38pts
P/L: +8.38pts


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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.