Dnipro v Club Brugge
Thursday April 23, 20:05
Live on ESPN
This quarter-final tie is on a knife-edge after a goalless draw in Belgium last week. Club Brugge boss Michel Preud'homme (one of my favourite keepers when I was a kid) has described the second leg as a game of poker, and the fact the Belgian league leaders will see their goals count double could prove to be a winning hand.
Club Brugge have set a new record by going 11 Europa League games unbeaten from the start of the competition, and they have won six of their seven away games in the tournament, including a stunning 3-1 comeback victory at Besiktas in the previous round. The Blauw-Zwart are also on a high after a battling 2-1 home win over fierce rivals Anderlecht at the weekend.
Dnipro have won their last three Europa League home games, including knockout successes against Olympiakos and Ajax, so they certainly won't have any fear of facing Club Brugge. However, it's worth noting they also lost at home to both Inter and Qarabag in the group stage, and they have suffered four defeats over the course of the tournament.
Dnipro's biggest attacking weapon will once again be Ukraine international Yevhen Konoplyanka, who had five goal attempts in the first leg, but the hosts will be without suspended midfielder Valeriy Fedorchuk. Brugge will welcome back right-back Thomas Meunier from suspension, although he isn't fully fit. Preudhomme has a choice to make in attack between youngster Mamadou Oulare and the more streetwise Tom De Sutter.
This will be tight, and I like the look of backing the draw at HT at 2.1411/10. Neither team will want to take too many risks early on with so much at stake, and both Preud'homme and his opposite number Myron Markevych have been extolling the virtues of patience and composure.
It's a close one, but I'm leaning towards backing Brugge to qualify. Dnipro's home record is impressive but not stellar, with a couple of defeats blotting the copybook. Brugge have a long unbeaten record in the books, and they were hugely impressive in Istanbul in the previous round. They won't go missing when the going gets tough, and if they weren't intimidated in Turkey, they shouldn't falter in Ukraine.
Back the draw in the Half Time market at 2.1411/10
Back Club Brugge to qualify at 2.111/10