It's an important night for Scottish football with four teams in Europa League action. Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse sizes up their chances...
"The Rangers win to nil appeals at odds of 3/1."
Scots out to impress
Followers of Scottish football have an exciting night ahead with four Premiership sides flying the saltire in the Europa League qualifying third round. Celtic and Rangers are joined by Motherwell and Aberdeen, but all four teams have been handed dangerous ties and another clean sweep of wins looks unlikely.
Celtic visit Latvian champions Riga FC before Rangers face a daunting trip to Netherlands where they'll face-off against Eredivisie side Willem II. Elsewhere on Thursday evening and Motherwell trip to Hapoel Be'er Sheva while Aberdeen are in action against the might of Sporting Lisbon.
Plenty to keep football fans busy and the Betfair Sportsbook offers members a chance to ramp up their interest with a bet on their favourite games. Pick sides in the match-winner betting or take a chance in one of the several specials, including handicap and total goals.
Riga head into this home match winless in their last two games and with just one victory in their six most recent starts. They were eliminated from the Champions League by Maccabi Tel Aviv courtesy of a 2-0 scoreline with striker Nick Blackman netting a double. That result dropped Riga into this competition, and they got off to a winning start, beating Tre Fiori 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Barbosa Moreira. Riga FC are 9/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook to win or 6/1 to qualify.
Like their opponents, Celtic were eliminated from the Champions League at the qualifying stage but had the safety net of Europa League football to help ease the pain. The Bhoys make this trip on a fine run of form, winning each of their last four games including a hard-fought 3-2 over Livingstone at home on Saturday. The away win is 1/5 favourite or there's 1/18 on the Scots to qualify.
Celtic were disappointing in the Champions League but will expect to qualify for the group stages of this competition, just as they did last season. If they are at their best, it's difficult to see past a strong away win. Those looking for a better price can back Celtic win and both teams to score at 8/5 on the Betfair Sportsbook.
Israeli Premier League side Hapoel Be'er Sheva enjoy a home advantage over Motherwell and they go into the contest with back-to-back wins in their last two games. They got their campaign off to a perfect start when hammering Dinamo Batumi 3-0 at home and followed that with a 2-1 victory on the road against the 10 men of Laci in the previous round. Sheva are 4/6 favourites to win this match and only 2/7 to qualify.
Motherwell were less than impressive in the opening few weeks of the Scottish Premiership season, but they take confidence into this Europa League tie, having won three games on the bounce. That purple patch began with a 1-0 over St Johnstone before downing Coleraine in this tournament and Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday. The Steelmen are 10/3 to win or 11/5 to qualify.
The way Motherwell have improved following their poor start to the season is impressive, but this represents a serious step up in class from their previous Europa League opponents. They will battle hard, but the home side are experienced enough to progress and the 17/10 on the Sportsbook about Hapoel HT/FT looks worth a play.
Tricolours finished fifth in the Dutch top flight last season but suffered a mixed bag of results since the 2020/21 campaign opened, winning one and losing one of their first two league matches. They were last seen on domestic duty hammering Heracles Almelo 4-0 at home, a much-needed win that came on the back of a painful 2-0 opening round defeat at sc Heerenveen who ended 10th last term. Willem II are 5/2 to win or 6/4 to qualify on the Sportsbook.
Rangers had started the Scottish Premiership season in fine form before dropping two points at Easter Road on Sunday, surrendering a 2-1 lead to finish 2-2. That was the first and second goals conceded by the Gers' defence this season and boss Steven Gerrard will need his backline to return to their best if the team are to keep their Europa League adventure alive. Rangers are 5/6 to win the match and 4/9 to qualify - both Sportsbook prices.
Rangers enjoyed a stunning run to the latter stages of this competition last season, eventually eliminated by Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16 in early August. They have improved since then and will fancy their chances of edging out Holland's fifth-best team. The Rangers win to nil appeals at odds of 3/1.
Lisbon have home advantage and are hot favourites against an opponent that finished fourth in the Scottish Premiership last season. The Portuguese side were also fourth in their division and haven't been seen in competitive action since July when losing 2-1 at Benfica in Primeira Liga. They are favourites but may lack a bit of sharpness. There's 1/4 Lisbon win the match on the Sportsbook with to qualify as tight as 1/12.
Aberdeen were impressive in the previous round when upsetting the odds to defeat Viking FC 2-0 on the road. Goals from Ross McCrorie and Ryan Hedges seen the Dons through but there's no doubting the fact they step up a few levels to face Lisbon. The away win has been written off as a 7/1 play with 5/1 to qualify. It's difficult to argue against the Betfair traders on that one.
The betting would suggest this is a foregone conclusion and Sporting Lisbon will send Aberdeen packing. That's a fair assumption but if the Dons press their hosts early, they could catch them cold. Doing that without leaving themselves open is the tricky part. Back Lisbon win and both teams to score at a handy 17/10.