THE always-excellent James Cantrill (@JimmyThePunt) shares his favourite fancies from Thursday’s Europa League card as the knockout rounds continue with the semi-finals second legs.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs West Ham | Thursday 5th May 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
A raucous atmosphere greeted Eintracht Frankfurt in east London for the first leg of their semi-final clash with West Ham but the German side immediately stunned the London Stadium when Ansgar Knauff nodded in Rafael Borré’s cross with less than a minute on the clock.
Michail Antonio drew his side level before the first quarter of the game was complete and this flurry of goals has been a feature of Die Adler European campaign. Antonio’s second of the season in this competition was the 12th goal Oliver Glasner’s side conceded on route to the semi-finals and meant they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 19 games in the UEL.
Currently trailing 2-1 on aggregate, the impetus is on the Hammers at the Deutsche Bank Park and I think this dynamic suits a goal laden game. David Moyes bemoaned his side’s wasteful nature in the first leg and you can understand his frustration considering WHU had 15 shots, hit the post and generated an xG of 2.86.
Therefore, I think both teams to score at 7/10 with William Hill is fair enough and worth a couple of points. It is worth remembering that, following West Ham’s equaliser last Thursday you would have expected the pendulum of momentum to swing in the favour of the hosts.
However, Eintracht Frankfurt had their best spell of the game in that period before half-time. In a time to be resolute, the away side brought chaos to the Hammers defence and I think this speaks volumes about Glasners philosophy and his sides offence approach.
Daichi Kamada’s price of 4/1 with Betfred to score anytime also looks too large. The Japanese livewire was a constant thorn in the Hammers defence in the first leg scoring. He scored his side’s second, which was his fifth in the competition, and hit the woodwork.
Rangers vs RB Leipzig | Thursday 5th May 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Rangers were resolute in Leipzig. Giovanni van Bronckhorst said they had a clear game plan to give them the best possible chance of reaching the final and the Gers executed it to perfection, almost.
Their impressive defending is best epitomised by the scoreline, RBL only scored once and did not manage to find the net until five minutes from time. Even the goal, an Angelino volley from range during the second phase of a corner, showcased individual skill rather than a slick bit of play.
The Scottish champions looked disjointed in attack though, unsurprising considering that Alfredo Morelos and Kemar Roofe were unavailable. The pair have bagged 31 goals between them this campaign.
With both looking unlikely to feature here it is a struggle to see where the hosts’ offensive edge will come from. In the first leg they only mustered one shot on target and an xG of 0.34. It is worth pointing out, they went to Germany to contain and counter, deploying a low block in a 5-3-2 formation but you take that amount of goals out of the side and the simple fact is they are going to be blunter.
When you consider this, the dynamic of the tie and Leipzig’s away form, I think the 10/9 available with Vbet for RBL to win is worth a punt.
The German side struggled to break Rangers down in the first leg but with the hosts chasing the game at the Ibrox I think RBL will be a different proposition with space to exploit.
In the Champions League, RBL scored five away goals at Club Bruges, thrice at the Etihad and twice in Paris. In the knock-out stage of this competition, they drew both of their home first leg ties vs Real Sociedad and Atalanta before turning up the heat away from home, hitting three past Real Sociedad and two past La Dea.
Having an Old Firm derby sandwiched in between this semi-final was less than ideal for Rangers as they were not able to rotate. RBL on the other hand made five changes for their 3-1 defeat in the Bundesliga on Monday so you would imagine the visitors would be the fresher.
With Artur Manuel Soares Dias incharge of this clash, cards also have to be a play. The Portuguese referee has brandished 16 yellows and one red card in the two UEL games he has overseen this season.
Rotation is rife with RBL, meaning it is tough to know who is going to last the 90 which is why I think their side is best avoided here. Given the pressure on the hosts, plumping their comparatively more predictable team makes more sense.
James Tavenier’s price of 6/1 with Unibet looks too big, as does the 5/1 available with the same bookie for John Lundstram to go into the book. The pair have 12 cards to their names between them and have played crucial roles in their sides’ route to this stage of the competition. I will also be having a small play on the double at 25/1 with Bet365.
Roma vs Leicester | Thursday 5th May 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
I am also going to dip into the Europa Conference semi-final fixture between Roma and Leicester.
It all ended square at the King Power in the first leg. The Foxes are just a game away from the final with victory well within their grasp, however, they head to the Italian capital to face a footballing juggernaut led by one of the games greatest characters.
The Stadio Olimpico is the perfect stage for such an occasion as well. From tales of emperors and gladiators to entertainers, the eternal city has provided the home for some huge names. In footballing terms there is Carlo Ancelotti, Gabriel Batistuta and Francesco Totti to name a few. Given the debut season he has had, Tammy Abraham is in this conversation as well.
Few have trodden the path that he is on, Abraham is one of only a few English men currently plying their trade in Italy and given the impact he has had on Serie A, it is a wonder more players have not.
The former Chelsea man has 24 goals to his name so far this season, eight of which have come in this competition. A tally that eclipses the debut tally’s of Vincenzo Montella and Batistuta, Roma legends of the past.
His goals per 90 average of 0.65 for the season, directly translates to a decimal price of 1.54. Obviously, there is a lot more factored into the 21/10 (3.10) available at Unibet, but it does simply look too big and that is without taking into account the visitors porus defence.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs West Ham – Both Teams To Score (7/10 William Hill)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs West Ham – Daichi Kamada Anytime (4/1 Betfred)
Rangers vs RB Leipzig – RB Leipzig Win (10/9 Vbet)
Rangers vs RB Leipzig – James Tavernier Card (6/1 Unibet)
Rangers vs RB Leipzig – John Lundstrum Card (5/1 Unibet)
Rangers vs RB Leipzig – James Tavernier and John Lundstrum Both Carded (25/1 Bet365)
Roma vs Leicester – Tammy Abraham Anytime (21/10 Unibet)