THE ULTRA Thurs: Europa League Quarter Finals Preview

EUROPA LEAGUE QUARTER FINALS: The Ultra previews Thursday’s quarter final games all with a recommended BETDAQ bet and extended match stats.


5.45pm It’s Europa League Quarter-Final time on BETDAQ Betting Exchange on Thursday, and we have some cracking ties to enjoy. We had a reasonably dull International break recently, but since we have returned the action in Europe has been top notch. We’re going to have some massive games over the next few weeks too! We start Thursday night with RB Leipzig hosting Atalanta, and it’s nice that we have a game at 5-45pm this evening as well as others at 8pm as it allows us to enjoy more football. I really think we should have one Champions League game at 5-45pm and the other at 8pm but what can we do. RB Leipzig are in peak form at the moment, and they will be very confident coming into this tie after a massive 4-1 win over Dortmund at the weekend in the Bundesliga. Although RB Leipzig started the season very slowly, understandable after selling their best players during the summer, they have been playing some excellent football recently and have shot up the Bundesliga table. They are back into the top four now, and probably couldn’t be in better form.

The same can’t be said about Atalanta unfortunately. They have dropped out of the top six in Serie A which is remarkable considering they were sitting in the top four a few weeks ago. Once Juventus went past them they have been pretty poor and they slipped further down the table at the weekend with a 3-1 loss to Napoli. They have put in some very averages performances against the likes of Genoa, Roma, Fiorentina and Cagliari recently. As I said at the weekend in my preview of the Dortmund v RB Leipzig game, this is a perfect time to support RB Leipzig given the quality of the football they are playing at the moment and I can’t see past them winning here. Not only are they in superb form, but Atalanta are there for the taking at the moment too. You can see looking at the xG figures that Atalanta aren’t playing well at the moment, and this will be a one way traffic home win. The 1.86 is worthy of a Max Bet.

The Ultra Says:
Five points win RB Leipzig to beat Atalanta at 1.86 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

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● RB Leipzig and Atalanta have never previously met in Europe. Leipzig’s only European encounter with Italian opposition to date saw them eliminate Napoli in the Last 32 of this competition back in 2017-18.
● All six of Atalanta’s previous matches against German teams have come in the knockout stages of European competitions – they eliminated FC Köln in the Last 16 of the UEFA Cup in 1990-91, were eliminated by Borussia Dortmund in the Last 32 of the UEFA Europa League in 2017-18, and eliminated Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the previous round of this competition last time out.
● RB Leipzig have scored multiple goals in each of their last six matches in European competition, their longest ever such run – they are averaging 2.7 goals per game over this period (16 goals in 6 matches).
● Atalanta have won each of their last four matches in Europe – should they win this match, it will be their longest ever winning run in European competition.
● RB Leizpig’s Christopher Nkunku has been involved in more goals (9 – 8 goals and 1 assist) than he has played games (8) in European competition this season.


8pm We have three games kicking off at 8pm, and we start with Eintracht Frankfurt hosting Barcelona. Frankfurt have been having a poor season in the Bundesliga, and they are very likely going to miss out on European football next season. They started this season incredibly slowly but they got going around Christmas time – unfortunately they left themselves with too much work to do and it’s hard to see them finishing in the top six. They won’t have enjoyed seeing the draw for the Europa League either – Barcelona are the one side you’d like to avoid at the moment! Barcelona put in another great performance at the weekend with a smooth win over Sevilla, they might have only scored once in the 1-0 win but they created way more than that and should have scored more. With the 4-0 win away in El Clasico prior to the International break too, it’s fair to say that Barcelona are back. Xavi has done an incredible job, and the improvement in a short space of time has been immense.

It’s hard to see anything bar Barcelona going through to the Semi-Finals, but Frankfurt will have something to say about that with home advantage here. The main issue I see with that though in Frankfurt have been very average at home in the Bundesliga this season – it has actually been their away form that’s carried them. If you look at the home form table, they sit in fourth last, on the away form table they go into the top four! Everyone might think Barcelona will be happy with a draw or a small win here to win the tie in the Camp Nou but I actually think they can put the tie to bed here. I’m not going to have a Max Bet at 1.73 because like I said, Barcelona won’t go into this game with exceptionally attacking tactics but I can’t see past the Barcelona win here. Frankfurt will give them plenty of chances, and with the form of Barcelona at the moment it’s hard to see them not scoring at some stage.

The Ultra Says:
Three points win Barcelona to beat Eintracht Frankfurt at 1.73 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->


● This will be the very first meeting between these sides in Europe. Eintracht Frankfurt are currently unbeaten in eight games against Spanish opponents in Europe (W5 D3), never losing at home to such opposition (W2 D2).
● Barcelona have conceded 14 goals across their last three matches against German opponents in Europe, although all three matches came against FC Bayern München. Excluding games against Bayern, they are unbeaten in 21 matches against German teams (W17 D4) since losing away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in September 2001.
● Eintracht Frankfurt have never lost at home in major European competition in the quarter-finals and beyond (P16 W12 D4 L0) – this is the most such games any side has ever played in major European competition without being defeated.
● Barcelona have been defeated only three times across their last 20 matches in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (W11 D6), although all three defeats have come in away matches (vs Celta de Vigo in March 2001, Liverpool in April 2001, and Celtic in March 2004).
● Barcelona’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored 24 goals in the UEFA Europa League, with none of them coming from the penalty spot. The only player with more non-penalty goals in the competition is Radamel Falcao (27).


8pm Next we have a massive game for Scottish football as Sporting Braga host Rangers. This was always going to be a huge week for Rangers, and unfortunately for them they started it on the wrong note with a loss in the Old Firm Derby against Celtic on Sunday. That was a huge game in the battle for the Scottish Premiership and Rangers had home advantage too. The loss there effectively ends the title race given the gulf in class between the top two and the rest, Celtic won’t slip up with a six point lead. That leaves Rangers to focus on the Europa League, and I suppose it’s a nice way to bounce back straight away. This is an absolutely huge game for Rangers, and if they could reach the Semi-Final it would be their greatest achievement for years. They won’t be too unhappy with the draw too, compared to who they could be facing this was a great draw for them but they have to get through this tie. Rangers were absolutely superb against Dortmund over the two legs so they could say they deserved their “easy” draw in the last round. They won the first leg at home 3-0, but then lost the away leg.

I won’t read too much into the second leg as basically they just had to get through it after won the first leg 3-0, but it’s also fair to say that they have been much more comfortable at home in this competition compared to away. If you take out their Dortmund win they have been pretty average away from home. In that sense, I can see why Braga are favourites to win tonight but Rangers are favourites to qualify. Braga have rode their luck at times in the Europa League but they were rock solid against Monaco in the last round. I feel Rangers will want to keep this game as quiet as possible, and while Braga might see this as a time to attack, they won’t be too open at the start. Rangers have been involved in some high scoring games in the Europa League so I’m going to keep stakes small here but under 2.5 goals catches my eye at 1.8. I strongly feel we’ll have a very cagey game here without many chances. That will suit Rangers, and Braga have in general kept games very tight in Europe this season.

The Ultra Says:
Two points win Under 2.5 goals at 1.8 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->


● Braga and Rangers’ only previous meeting in Europe came at the Last 32 stage of the UEFA Europa League in 2019-20, with Rangers winning home and away. At the time, they were only the second side to beat Braga home and away in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League (also Shakhtar Donetsk in 2015-16).
● Rangers have reached the quarter-final stage or later of a major European competition for the first time since 2007-08, when they finished as runners-up in the UEFA Cup, losing to Zenit in the final. Overall, Rangers have progressed from 6/11 quarter-finals in Europe.
● Braga have been defeated only twice across their last 18 home matches in Europe (W11 D5), although the first of those two losses came against Rangers in February 2020, with Ryan Kent scoring the game’s only goal.
● Rangers have conceded at least one goal in each of their last seven away games in major European competition, their longest such run since a 13-game stretch between 1993 and 1999.
● Rangers forward Alfredo Morelos has been directly involved in 21 goals in 33 UEFA Europa League games (15 goals, 6 assists). Since his competition debut for Rangers in October 2018, only Bruno Fernandes (25) has been involved in more goals.


8pm We finish the night with West Ham hosting Lyon, and all eyes from the Premier League will be on this tie! Reaching the Quarter-Finals of the Europa League really highlights want a fantastic job David Moyes has done over the past few years with West Ham. It’s almost hard to believe they finished 16th in the Premier League in 2019/20 and only for a strong finish they could have easily went down. When Moyes was brought in to “keep them up” some of the fans weren’t happy too given he was an embarrassment at Manchester United. While they haven’t really “challenged” for the top four, they have been in the mix over the last two seasons and any European football spot is a great result for West Ham. A Europa League Semi-Final would be a massive achievement for the club, and they have an excellent chance of getting past Lyon too. Lyon have gone from a top four side in Ligue 1 last season to a mid-table side this season. They currently sit down in 9th in Ligue 1 coming into this tie and although they have been performing well in the Europa League, they did get a pretty soft Group. Credit where credit is due, they played well against Porto in the last round but West Ham have been playing much better this season overall.

I think with home advantage West Ham are a cracking bet here at 2.16. I expected them to be a lot closer to 2.0, especially have the performance against Sevilla here which was top class. When you look at the xG figures from West Ham, perhaps you begin to understand why some punters are happy to lay them. Their xG figures haven’t exactly been fantastic recently, and they haven’t been creating the same volume of chances recently that they were towards the start of the season. I fully take that on board, and I’m going to limit my stake because of that, however Lyon have been very average this season and I just feel that they aren’t at West Ham’s level. The Hammers have been fantastic in Europe this season and with home advantage here they can get the job done. I feel three points feels the right call – if their xG figures were a little better a Max Bet would have to be considered.

The Ultra Says:
Three points win West Ham to beat Lyon at 2.16 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->


● West Ham and Lyon will face for the first time in Europe. West Ham’s only previous meeting with French opposition in any European competition came in 1999 against Metz, when they jointly won the UEFA Intertoto Cup with Juventus and Montpellier – their scorers were Trevor Sinclair, Frank Lampard and Paulo Wanchope.
● Lyon are currently unbeaten in six matches against English sides (W4 D2), with two wins each coming against Everton and Manchester City; most recently eliminating City in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20.
● This will be West Ham’s fifth quarter-final tie in European competition, progressing from three of the previous four. Their only elimination did come in their most recent such outing, against Dinamo Tbilisi in the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980-81.
● After being eliminated in five consecutive quarter-finals in Europe between 1967-68 and 2005-06, Lyon have since progressed from three of their last four such ties, eliminating Bordeaux in 2009-10, Besiktas in 2016-17, and Manchester City in 2019-20.
● Lyon (+8.5) and West Ham (+8.2) rank first and second for total expected goals differential this season in the UEFA Europa League (16.1 xG and 7.6 xGA for Lyon, 16.2 xG and 8 xGA for West Ham).

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