Thursday promises to offer another spectacular evening of continental clashes, so pack your passport and join me as we look at four of the very best.
- West Ham to beat Viborg (7:45pm)
- Hearts to beat FC Zurich (6pm)
- AZ Alkmaar to beat Gil Vicente (8pm)
- Rigas FS to beat Linfield (6pm)
Throw The Hammer Down
The first of our four clashes takes us to the London Stadium as West Ham play host to Danish outfit Viborg in the Europa Conference League and with the Hammers having lost both their first two Premier League outings, they will look to finally get their season underway.
Especially as David Moyes’ men have failed to register a goal during their first 180 minutes of competitive action and although they were awarded a penalty at Nottingham Forest last Sunday, it was missed by Declan Rice.
Whether Rice should have been on penalty duty is something that can still be argued. Although what should not be argued, is West Ham’s chances of earning themselves a first leg advantage over Viborg.
Which is why success in East London is going to act as the bedrock of my latest European accumulator. It may only be odds of 2/9 for a home win on Thursday, but thankfully the hard work is going to be done elsewhere.
Hard work that may need to be carried out in Switzerland, as Hearts make their first foray into European competition this season and with some form of group stage football already secured, it means this, and seven more continental clashes will be on the horizon for Robbie Neilson’s men.
While the first of those sees Hearts go up against FC Zurich, a name that may be familiar for those who have already been keeping eye on the summer European club qualifiers and the reason why, is because they disposed of Linfield in the previous round of the preliminaries.
However, the visit of Hearts is set to be a tricky affair and although the bookmakers are seemingly putting their faith in the Swiss Super League outfit, I am going to go against the grain and plump for British interest instead.
Which means after backing a rather routine West Ham win above, I am now going to opt for Hearts to win on the road and when you consider their unbeaten start to the Scottish Premiership season, I think odds of 14/5 are incredibly tempting.
The Dundee Destroyers
After an emphatic 7-0 win at home to Dundee United last Thursday, AZ’s march towards the Europa Conference League group stage continues and with the Tannadice outfit being spanked in Alkmaar, it is now Gil Vicente who make the trip to the Netherlands.
While the Portuguese outfit were no slouches themselves in the previous round and although they were held by Latvia’s Riga FC in the first leg of their tie, they secured progress to Thursday’s next stage by virtue of a comfortable 4-0 home win in the second.
Which means both teams have already shown some form of European pedigree, and this should make for a rather interesting encounter in the Netherlands. However, it must also be noted that Gil Vicente lost to Arouca in Portugal’s Liga NOS on Monday.
Therefore, when you add that to the fact that AZ earned a 3-2 league win over Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday, the home side will rightly be favourites and therefore, I am adding them to my accumulator at odds of 8/15.
Third Competition Unlucky
It may only be the middle of August, but Linfield have already found themselves embarking on a European tour and one that will soon see them appear in each of UEFA’s three European club competitions.
Admittedly that is more by accident than design and with them initially starting in the Champions League qualification process, defeats in both that and the Europa League equivalent now see them parachuted into the third tier of continental warfare.
While their next battle takes them to Latvia and opposition that comes in the form of Rigas FS – who also started this season in the Champions League qualifiers. However, their early exit to HJK Helsinki saw them go direct to the Europa Conference instead.
A route that saw them paired with Hibernians of Malta in the previous round and after disposing of them by four goals to two on aggregate, they and myself are confident of more success this Thursday. Which is why I am backing Rigas FS to beat Linfield at odds of 13/20.
While if you put all four combinations together, Bet365 are prepared to offer you 10.75/1 in return.