Leverkusen and Zurich have already qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa League, but top spot is still up for grabs and its the Germans who lead Group A by a point. Larnaca will finish third if they better Ludogorets’ result at home to Zurich. Both teams are in a position to rest players if they so wish and that could have a big effect on the final outcome, so make sure you check the starting lineups before placing any bets.
Larnaca were beaten 1-0 away at Paphos in Cypress’ 1. Division on Saturday, despite being the better team for the majority of the match. Nemec scored the games only goal on the stroke of half time, and even though they went down to ten-men in the seventieth minute when Živulić was sent-off, Paphos held on to secure all three points. Larnaca remain in fourth spot, but with each of the three teams above them in 1. Division winning they lost ground in the title race.
Leverkusen have endured a poor start to their Bundesliga season, but recent result suggest they might still challenge for the European places. On Saturday Augsburg provided the opposition at the BayArena in Leverkusen, where the hosts dominated the match with 62% of the possession and eighteen shots during the ninety minutes. The hosts were made to wait until the seventy-fifth minute to score the goal that would earn them all three points, with Argentine substitute Alario scoring his first league goal of the season.
Larnaca took the lead in German when the two clubs met for their reverse group fixture, with Trichkovski netting in the twenty-fifth minute. The teams went in level at the break thanks to an equaliser from Havertz and early in the second half Alario put the hosts 2-1 up. Alario added a third goal with three minutes on the clock and even though Raspas pulled a goal back for Larnaca in stoppage time, Brandt restored Leverkusen’s two goal lead less than sixty-seconds later. The hosts deserved all three points that day in what was a very competitive match that produced five yellow cards for Leverkusen and four their Cypriot guests.
With eight goals in qualifying and the group stage this season, Trichkovski is Larnaca’s dangerman and someone the visitors need to mark carefully on Thursday or risked being punished. Havertz scored when the pair last met and lead the way for Leverkusen with three goals during the group stage. Both teams have been involved in low scoring games of late, keeping a number of clean sheets, and we think that could prove to be a theme on Thursday.
We’re backing Under 2.5 goals on Thursday, and for the game to end 0-0. The hosts have kept three clean sheets in their last six matches and have drawn two of their five group games in the Europa League. Leverkusen have also kept three clean sheets in their last six matches, and five of their last six in all competitions have produced under 2.5 goals.