European Football Tips: Leipzig have lift-off

Leipzig still upwardly mobile
Leipzig's wings remain unclipped
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Leipzig's Europa League adventure may cost them in the Bundesliga, Lyon are in turmoil and Inter have it tough at Samp, as James Horncastle points out...

The top four remains only two points away and Hasenhüttl will draw confidence from the knowledge that Leverkusen and Hoffenheim still have to come to them before the season ends.

Leipzig hit new heights

It's been quite the week in the history of RB Leipzig. Formed less than a decade ago and still in the third division as recently as 2014, the club backed by an energy drink, the source of great controversy in Germany, are now in the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

The last two rounds have been a major test of maturity for Ralph Hasenhüttl's young side who have eliminated Napoli and Zenit since dropping down from the Champions League. Trading @ 3.02/1 to reach the final and 109/1 to lift the trophy, Leipzig represent decent value as an outsider in a competition where Atletico Madrid remain clear favourites.

Give credit where it's due, the Bulls have looked upon the Europa League as an opportunity rather than a burden even at the expense of their domestic form. Winless in four, Leipzig have fallen to sixth in the Bundesliga and host champions elect Bayern at the Red Bull Arena on Sunday.

The top four remains only two points away and Hasenhüttl will draw confidence from the knowledge that Leverkusen and Hoffenheim still have to come to them before the season ends. The Exchange offers Leipzig @ 3.02/1 to repeat the achievements of last year and consolidate their place in Germany's top three.

Inter's issues aren't over

Pundits were eager to shower Inter with praise after Sunday's 0-0 with Napoli at San Siro. Ex-pros like Beppe Bergomi and Gianluca Vialli felt the Nerazzurri had recaptured the spirit and togetherness from earlier in the season. Remember Inter were top of the table as recently as mid-December.

Rather curiously, though, their manager Luciano Spalletti nipped that in the bud right away. Clearly he doesn't want anyone to labour under the misapprehension that everything is suddenly OK. Regardless of whether Inter qualify for the Champions League or not the Tuscan feels the team and club requires major surgery in the summer.

Currently fifth, Inter's run-in is far from easy. Only five of their remaining 11 games are at San Siro and they include the Derby della Madonnina and Derby d'Italia. Life on the road is fairly daunting too. Inter face Sampdoria this weekend then Torino and Atalanta before heading down to Lazio on the final day in what many anticipate will be a Champions League play-off.

Getting a result at Samp on Sunday lunch-time will be fraught with difficulty. True, the Blucerchiati lost heavily to Crotone last weekend but that was down in Calabria and reflects their Jekyll and Hyde character. One thing away from home, Samp are quite another altogether at the Luigi Ferraris. Remarkably only Juventus have a better record 'in casa' than Marco Giampaolo's side this season. They have taken 32 of the 41 points available to them at Marassi.

Such form explains why Samp remain in seventh place despite picking up only three wins outside of Genova throughout the whole campaign. Priced @ 4.03/1 for the win, the Blucerchiati are definitely worth your while.

Lyon in crisis

The big game in France on Sunday night promises to be a cracker between Marseille and Lyon at the Stade Velodrome. Lyon can't afford to lose otherwise their chances of a podium finish are all but over. There were signs of recovery last weekend when OL ended a demoralising six-game run in the league without a win by claiming revenge over Caen, the team that had knocked them out of the Coupe de France.

Thursday's debacle in the Europa League has dampened the mood though. One-nil up from the first leg in Moscow, Lyon lost 3-2 to CSKA at the Parc OL and are out. Marseille meanwhile finished the job by beating Athletic Bilbao for the second time in a week to book their place in the quarter-finals. Better than them in Ligue 1 and in Europe, the confrontation with Marseille this weekend means Lyon can't escape scrutiny. They are under the microscope and the pressure is well and truly on.

Rudi Garcia is doing an excellent job down by la Vieux Port. Lucas Ocampos and Dimitri Payet have been in fine form of late and Champions League qualification is nearing on the horizon. Another win on Sunday would be a big step towards that. It would figure as a knock-out blow to a wobbling Lyon side. Take OM @ 2.01/1 to win.

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