Europa League Betting: Confident Spurs to get their revenge in Florence

Man with a plan - Mauricio Pochettino has the nous to guide Spurs to success
Man with a plan - Mauricio Pochettino has the nous to guide Spurs to success
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After making a 3.3 point profit from the group phase, Kevin Hatchard now takes on the Europa League's knockout stages, and he has four matches to keep an eye on.

"Spurs have won their last seven games in all competitions, and they have a strong squad. Fiorentina have a decent home record, but they are far from unbeatable at the Artemio Franchi."

Back Spurs Draw No Bet at 2.285/4

Fiorentina v Tottenham
Thursday February 18, 18:00
Live on BT Sport Europe

As he high-fived or embraced every single member of the team that beat Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday, Mauricio Pochettino had fire in his eyes. The ultra-fit, competitive side that he has helped to assemble have announced themselves as genuine Premier League title challengers.

There'll now be plenty of talk about prioritising competitions as the Lilywhites look to plot their way to glory, but Pochettino has shown plenty of respect to the Europa League so far, and a trip to Florence to face Fiorentina is hardly an arduous undertaking. Spurs are looking to extend a seven-match winning streak, and the Argentinean is a clever enough coach to know that momentum is key.

Fiorentina have seen their Serie A title hopes fade, largely because of the relentless form of Juventus and Napoli at the top. Paulo Sousa's men are still third, and the weekend's dramatic 2-1 victory over Inter (Papa Boubacar scored a 90th-minute winner) made it three home wins in a row for La Viola. Fiorentina will take some comfort from last season's 2-0 Europa League victory over Spurs in Italy, but it's easy to forget that Roberto Soldado missed a glorious chance in that match to score a vital goal that could have changed the course of the tie.

Fiorentina aren't unbeatable at the Artemio Franchi. They lost two of their three group games at home, and in the Coppa Italia they were dumped out 1-0 by newly-promoted Carpi.

Spurs are on a roll, and they have a very strong squad, and I think they can get something here. For me, the visitors are too big a price to win at 3.39/4, so let's cover the draw and back them Draw No Bet.

Recommended Bet
Back Spurs Draw No Bet at 2.285/4


Marseille v Athletic Bilbao
Thursday February 18, 20:05
Live on BT Sport Europe

The big clubs in Spain can sometimes distort a team's record, and that's certainly the case with Athletic Bilbao away from home. They've lost three of their last four road games, but two of those were trips to face Barcelona (and nobody wants to go there at the moment - they even take fancy penalties), and the other was the weekend's 4-2 defeat at Real Madrid.

If you look beyond those Herculean tasks, the Basque outfit have actually picked up some decent results away from home. They won 1-0 at high-flying Villarreal in the Copa del Rey, and also beat a strong Celta Vigo side in Galicia. Ernesto Valverde's team have also been surprisingly good away from home in the Europa League, winning at Augsburg and Partizan.

Marseille have struggled to get it together at the Velodrome all season, and last season's title push seems a lifetime ago. Spanish coach Michel - mockingly dubbed "Fashion Week" by the Marseille fans for his attention to sartorial elegance - hasn't really been able to improve the home form. Marseille have won just two of their 13 home games in Ligue 1, and the last of those victories was in September.

Having been battling with giants of the sport, I think Bilbao will find this a nice change of pace, and with youngster Inaki Williams and veteran Aritz Aduriz they have the firepower to score here. I'm happy to back the visitors with a bit of insurance.

Recommended Bet
Back Athletic Bilbao Draw No Bet at 2.0421/20


Sevilla v Molde
Thursday February 18, 18:00
Live on BT Sport Extra

So here they go again, Los Rojiblancos, undisputed kings of the Europa League. Unai Emery's men dropped out of the Champions League, and are now chasing a third consecutive success in this competition. That would truly be a remarkable achievement.

They certainly have every reason to believe they can make a flying start to the knockout phase against Molde. They have won their last 13 home games in all competitions, and their list of victims at the Sanchez Pizjuan this season reads like a who's who of European football. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have all succumbed in Andalusia.

Molde haven't played a competitive game since December, and worryingly they have lost all of their pre-season friendlies. They are still another month from starting the Norwegian season, and they don't seem to be in good enough shape to pose a challenge here.

Eleven of Sevilla's 17 home wins this term have been by a margin of two goals or greater, and I fancy something similar here. At time of writing there was little liquidity in the Asian Handicap market, but when there is, back the hosts -1.5 at 1.855/6 or greater.

Recommended Bet
Back Sevilla -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at around 1.855/6


Valencia v Rapid Vienna
Thursday February 18, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 2

Gary Neville's first La Liga win as Valencia boss finally arrived on Sunday, as his relegation-threatened side fought back from a goal down to beat Espanyol 2-1. It was a bizarre victory, as Espanyol continually created and squandered chances against a dreadful defence at the Mestalla.

It's ironic that Neville was a great defender and is excellent at spotting defensive weakness as a TV pundit, because he's really struggled to plug the holes in his team's backline. Players aren't picking up their men at set pieces, and full-backs aren't coming across to cover their more central counterparts. It's all a bit of a mess.

Conversely, Rapid Vienna are joint-top of the Austrian Bundesliga, and they have won both of the league matches since the winter break by a 3-0 scoreline. They won five of their six group games, only losing to Villarreal in Spain.

It's tempting to lay Valencia at 1.834/5, because they are so fragile, but they've largely been better in cup competitions under Neville than they have in the league. I do fancy Rapid to score though, and that could lead to an exciting first leg.

Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.9210/11

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