The last two days have provided us with some great international action, as the Champions League quarterfinals featured two Manchester losses, a shocking draw and a comfortable Liverpool victory. Today, we shift to the UEFA Europa League, as these second-tier teams look to make the leap up to the top-flight European tournament next campaign. Check out our Europa League quarterfinals betting preview for the best bets of the day.
Arsenal vs. Napoli
Arsenal is unbeaten in eight Europa League matches at the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners’ sole home defeat in their entire history of post-2009 Europa League participation being an inconsequential 2-1 reverse to Östersunds FK back in February 2018.
Arsenal lost 1-0 to Everton on Sunday and will be happy to return to home soil for Thursday’s match against Napoli, where they are on a seven-match winning streak. In addition, they have kept five clean sheets in that time. Napoli has only won two of their last six matches in all competitions and almost crashed out of the Europa League, after losing 3-1 away to Salzburg in their last match in the competition. Moreover, the Serie A outfit has only won three of their last 10 away from home. Carlo Ancelotti has recorded successive 5-1 victories over Arsenal in his most recent encounters with the Gunners, but they were during his stint as Bayern Munich manager. He is not expected to get similar joy in Thursday’s match.
Benfica vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Unbeaten at home in the Europa League, Benfica will be tested as they take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of this quarterfinal. The Portuguese side comes into this one with competitive form that has room for improvement, although three of their last four victories have been accompanied by a clean sheet.
Benfica is unbeaten in their last eight home matches in all competitions and average over three goals a game in that time. Frankfurt is a dark horse for the competition. The German side has won their last five matches and is unbeaten in 2019 (15 matches). Frankfurt hasn’t lost away from home since well before Christmas and has kept a clean sheet in four of their last six on the road. This should be one of the most entertaining matches on Thursday between two sides that have what it takes to go all the way.
Slavia Prague vs. Chelsea
Europa League surprise package Slavia Prague knocked five-time winners Sevilla out in the previous round (6-5 on aggregate) and now face 2012-13 champions Chelsea, a side that is undefeated this Europa League campaign.
Slavia Prague surprisingly eliminated Sevilla from the Europa League in the last round and are unbeaten at home in all competitions since August. Chelsea has found a bit of form in recent weeks, but this match comes at a poor time for Maurizio Sarri, as it is smack-dab in between two important league matches. Slavia Prague has only conceded three goals in Europa League home matches this season, and they all came in the last round versus Sevilla. Chelsea is unbeaten away from home in Europe this season, and Sarri will be delighted to come away with any sort of win on Thursday night.
Villareal vs. Valencia
With record five-time winners Sevilla now eliminated from the Europa League, it’s up to Villarreal and Valencia to fly the flag for La Liga in a repeat of their 2003-04 Europa League semifinal encounter that saw Valencia reach the final after a narrow 1-0 win over two legs.
Villarreal and Valencia clash in an all-Spanish affair in the Europa League quarterfinals. Valencia manager Marcelino will also go up against his former club. Villarreal is winless in three matches, having previously won four in a row. Valencia slipped up in a shocking 2-1 defeat away to Rayo Vallecano at the weekend to end their impressive 17-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. The last four matches between the two sides at Estadio de la Cerámica have seen under 2.5 goals, so expect a tight, low-scoring affair on Thursday.