Predictions and Best Bets for Europa League Games on Thursday, August 5, 2021
The Europa League’s third qualifying round starts this week with the Neftchi Baku (Azerbaijan) vs. HJK (Finland) game on Tuesday. The other seven matchups are scheduled for Thursday. Those are, namely:
- Kairat Almaty (Kazakhstan) vs. Alashkert (Armenia)
- Jablonec (Czech Republic) vs. Celtic (Scotland)
- Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar) vs. Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia)
- Omonia (Cyprus) vs. Flora (Estonia)
- Galatasaray (Turkey) vs. St. Johnstone (Scotland)
- Mura (Slovenia) vs. Zalgiris (Lithuania)
- Rapid Vienna (Austria) vs. Anorthosis (Cyprus)
As you can see, there are no elite teams featured in these seven matchups. In fact, the highest-ranked of these fourteen teams is Celtic, currently sitting in the 46th position in the UEFA Club Rankings.
So why would you be interested in these games? Because from a bettor’s perspective, they’re awesome! There’s plenty of money to be made from Europa League betting, assuming you choose the winning picks.
That’s obviously the hard part, but I’m here to help. I’m now going to share my predictions for all seven games and provide my opinion on what to bet this Thursday. So, let’s start!
Kairat Almaty to Beat Alashkert
Kairat Almaty got obliterated by Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League qualifiers, but this team is now one of the main favorites for a place in the Europa League.
So, why is that the case? It’s because Kairat has some really good players in the squad, especially in the final third. Their most famous player is 37-year-old striker Vagner Love, who recorded 11 appearances for the Brazil national team.
What about Alashkert – you might ask – does this team have any noteworthy players? Not really…
Their key player is French midfielder Vincent Bezecourt who played a couple of MLS games a few years ago.
Not only is Kairat a much better team than Alashkert, but the Kazakhstani representative needs to bounce back after a humiliating defeat to Red Star last Tuesday.
Celtic to Beat Jablonec
The Bhoys got a new boss, but he’s still without a single win at Celtic’s helm after four games. With Ange Postecoglou in charge, Celtic drew once and lost the other three games.
It’s time for that to change and the game with Jablonec seems like an ideal opportunity for that. Although the Scottish team has been in a dreadful run, it does have much better players than its next rival.
Omonia to Beat Flora
Omonia is currently at the top of the Cypriot soccer pantheon, having won the league title and the Super Cup last season. What this team lacks is success on the contentment.
Led by the former Manchester United defender Henning Berg, Omonia looks ready to make its European dreams come true. The Cypriot side is favored to win on Thursday for several reasons other than the fact that its manager is the experienced Norwegian.
The main reason why I think Omonia will beat Flora is that the core of its squad is made up of players in their 30s with plenty of experience in continental competitions.
Slovan Bratislava to Beat Lincoln Red Imps
There are just over 30,000 people living in Gibraltar, and one-sixth of them could come to Victoria Stadium to watch Lincoln Red Imps try to achieve the biggest feat in the club’s history.
In fact, Lincoln Red Imps getting to the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League is already the furthest a Gibraltar-based club went. Can they take it a step further? Probably not…
They’re playing against Slovan Bratislava, which is a much, much better team. Not only that but this team’s been in a pretty good run lately, making me expect a big win on Thursday.
Mura and Zalgiris to Draw
After learning some facts about Gibraltar, one would assume that the stadium of Lincoln Red imps is among the smallest in Europe in terms of capacity. With 5,000 seats, Victoria Stadium really is very small, but not as small as the home venue of Mura.
The chances are that the stadium isn’t going to be full this Thursday. Mura’s attendance figures are very low, meaning that there’s really no home advantage.
This fact could make the job easier for Zalgiris. The trouble is that the Lithuanian team isn’t very good at soccer (but it has a very good basketball section). I think a draw is probably the most Zalgiris can get on Thursday.
Galatasaray to Beat St. Johnstone
Of all the 14 teams playing the Europa League qualifiers on Thursday, Galatasaray is the only one to have won this competition. Okay, when the Turkish team did it (1999-2000 season), it had a different name – the UEFA Cup.
However, one thing is the same as it was 21 years ago. Galatasaray is led by the same coach – Fatih Terim.
The most successful Turkish manager of all time is expected to lead his team to the Europa League once again. For that, he’s going to need the help of several top-class players, each with an amazing portfolio.
Who am I talking about? Arda Turan, for one, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan midfielder. Then, there’s also Ryan Babel, who spent four years as a Liverpool player.
DeAndre Yedlin, formerly of Newcastle, is also worth mentioning, and the same goes for Fernando Muslera, who was Lazio’s goalie before coming to Turkey.
What about St. Johnson’s superstars? Well, there are none. Although they’re a decent bunch of players, the Saints just can’t do much against Galatasaray.
Rapid Vienna to Beat Anorthosis
The team from the Austrian capital doesn’t have any major stars in the squad, but they seem to be doing pretty well. At least, they’ve been alright in the domestic league.
Rapid also did relatively well in the Champions League qualification, getting a 2-1 win in the first part of the Sparta Prague doubleheader. However, the Austrians lost 2-0 in the second leg.
Now, they’re facing a weaker opponent, and their chance of getting to the Europa League seems really good.
The fact is that Anorthosis players aren’t elite. In fact, they’re far from it – they’re not even doing well in the domestic league.
Actually, this team finished in fourth place in the Cypriot First League last season. Winning the 2020 Cypriot Cup is the reason why Anorthosis is now playing in the Europa League qualification.
Best Europa League Picks for Thursday, August 5
Here’s my selection of the best bets for Thursday’s Europa League:
Kairat Almaty vs. Alashkert
In the previous two games Kairat played, there were 12 goals. I expect this trend to continue on Thursday.
It’s not just because this team tends to score (and concede) a lot of goals. It’s also because Kairat’s opponent is one of the worst teams still left in the battle for a Europa League place.
- Pick: Over 2.5 Goals (1.90)
Lincoln Red Imps vs. Slovan Bratislava
Slovan Bratislava has better players than Lincoln Red Imps – it’s a fact!
The team that won the Slovak domestic league each time in the previous three years is coming to Gibraltar to grab a win.
- Pick: Slovan Bratislava (1.44)
Galatasaray vs. St. Johnstone
The Turkish heavyweight was unlucky to get pitted against PSV in the Champions League qualification. Galatasaray lost both games of the doubleheader by 7-2 on aggregate.
The Turks now face a weaker opponent, so nothing but a big win would be good enough.
- Pick: Galatasaray -1.5 (2.00)