Round 5 of the Europa League Group Stage is upon us and there are plenty of teams looking to make moves towards qualification for the next round. Here is a look at some of the games on Thursday.
Glasgow Rangers VS Sparta Prague
It will be a new look for Rangers in Europe as Giovanni van Bronckhorst is the man in charge following Steven Gerrard’s move to manage in the Premier League with Aston Villa. The first area the Dutchman will look to fix is the backline, with Rangers shipping goals much more easily this season than last. This includes three given up against Hibs at the weekend. Rangers will win this for their new boss and hopefully, there will be no crowd issues given some that we have seen between the clubs in the past. Take Rangers at 15/20 with BetXchange.
AS Monaco VS Real Sociedad
This one should be tense with Monaco knowing a win would be enough for them to progress. The flip side is that a defeat for a Real Sociedad team undefeated in the group to date would leave them needing a win in their final group game to progress. Monaco has not been in good form in Ligue 1 – where they sit eighth and are winless in three – but they have been decent in Europe. Wissam Ben Yedder needs to refind his scoring touch having bagged just three in all comps since the beginning of last month. Monaco should take this, but don’t be shocked if they play out to a draw.
Leicester City VS Legia Warsaw
The Foxes have been off the pace compared to recent seasons in the Premier League and they will be looking for a Europa League run to make up for that. To do so they really need a win here, but they will be without both influential midfielder Youri Tielemans (calf) and stalwart fullback Ricardo Pereira (hamstring) for this clash against Polish side Legia Warsaw. This is a tightly packed group, with Spartak Moscow’s win over Napoli on Wednesday meaning just two points separate the Russians in first-place with Leicester in last-place. Legia Warsaw has faced an incredible 97 shots in the Europa League – 20 more than any other team – and the Foxes finishing will be too much. Leicester to win this.
Rapid Wien VS West Ham United
West Ham has been outstanding this season but their seven-match unbeaten run was ended on Saturday as they went down 1-0 in the Premier League at the hands of Wolves. Rapid Wien has not been nearly as successful this season, winning just four of their first 14 fixtures in the Austria Bundesliga and just one of their four Europa League ties to date. A change in manager did provide an instant upturn in fortunes, however, with the Austrian side winning 1-0 at the weekend against SCR Altach in the first game in charge for new boss Steffen Hofmann. Even with that win, David Moyes and West Ham take this competition seriously and I like them to pick up a win here as they bid to wrap up the group.