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Brighton v AEK Athens: Back fast-starting Seagulls in 5/1 shot

Roberto de Zerbi
Roberto De Zerbi is leading Brighton into Europe for the first time

Paul Higham is expecting Brighton to make a flying start to their debut European campaign when they host AEK Athens on Thursday...

It's a huge night for Brighton as they start their first-ever European campaign by welcoming AEK Athens to the Amex Stadium.

The Seagulls are huge 1/61.17 favourites to beat the Greek champions, who missed out on a Champions Leagie spot by losing to Royal Antwerp in the play-offs.

We know all about Roberto De Zerbi's men by now, who have improved so much that their weekend win at Old Trafford came as no real surprise.

It's a measure of just how good they are now that they're such big odds-on shots in their European debut - and also in that De Zerbi has plenty of options to make changes from the Man Utd game.

Leg 1: Pascal Gross 1+ shot on target

De Zerbi may make a few changes but Pascal Gross should start again in midfield and along with all the good work he does he's also pretty handy at hitting the target.

He ranks second on the team with seven shots on target this season from 10 efforts, so he's pretty accurate when he gets the chance.

And at 10/111.91 for 1+ shot on target we'll take Gross to at least make the keeper work once again.

Leg 2: Evan Ferguson 2+ shots on target

Now for the main event, and I can't wait to see Evan Ferguson unleashed on the Europa League to see what the teenager can do.

The Irishman has had a shot on target in four of his five appearances this season, but when he starts his stats have been extraordinary.

Ferguson bagged that hat-trick against Newcastle as part of 10 shots and eight on target he registered in starts against the Magpies and West Ham.

I think he'll start here and that means we should be pretty safe with the 4/71.57 on Ferguson to have 2+ shots on target against the Greek side.

Leg 3: Over 1.5 first half goals

There's been exactly one first-half goal in all of Brighton's games so far, but there could, and perhaps should, have been a few more given the chances they create.

The last two AEK games have seen at least two goals scored in the first 45 minutes and although you don't want to get too carried away with Brighton they've got all the ingredients needed to make a flying start.

The Amex will be rocking and the game just screams goals - both teams have scored in Brighton's last nine and all five games this season have had over 3.5 goals in them.

AEK have also scored in six of seven this season so they won't be without a threat on the break either. So we're backing a fast start with over 1.5 goals in the first half at 6/52.20.

Back over 1.5 first-half goals in Brighton v AEK, Gross 1+ shot on target & Ferguson 2+ shots on target @ 5/16.00

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