Thursday Betting | Europa League Predictions, Betting Tips & Match Previews
Tuesday 11 July 11:43 Tweet
Astra Giurgiu v FK Zira - KO 18:30 | Europa League Second Qualifying Round 1st Leg
Following their best ever European campaign last season, we fancy Astra Giurgiu to get off to a winning start in Thursday's second qualifying 1st leg match against FK Zira of Azerbaijan.
Astra made it through to last season's Round of 32 before being knocked out by eventual Quarter Finalists Genk (3-2) following a second place finish in Group E where highlight results included a home draw against Italian giants Roma plus away wins at Viktoria Plzen and Austria Vienna. These followed a 2-1 aggregate win over West Ham in the Play-Off round, the second time in as many seasons that the Romanians have knocked the Hammers out of Europe.
FK Zira finished fourth in Azerbaijan's Premier League last season and have since knocked out FC Differdange 03 of Luxembourg in the first qualifying round of the competition.
Hajduk Split v Levski Sofia - KO 19:30 | Europa League Second Qualifying Round 1st Leg
Hajduk Split finished third in last season's Croatian First League for the fourth successive season, meaning they enter the Europa League at the second qualifying stage on Thursday.
Majstori s mora have a strong record at this stage of the competition and the Stadion Polijud has proved to be a tough visiting ground for European teams in recent seasons. The Croats have won their last five Europa League second qualifying round ties over two legs and have won seven of their last nine European home ties, losing just one since 2014.
The top two in Croatia, Rijeka and Dinamo Zagreb, were the only two sides to win in Split last season and Slovan Liberec are the only visiting European side to win there since Dundalk nearly three years ago.
Visiting Levski Sofia find themselves in the second qualifying round having knocked FK Sutjeska Niksic of Montenegro out in last week's first round. The Bulgarian First Professional League runners-up have failed to progress from the second qualifying round since 2011. Their most successful recent season in Europe saw them finish bottom of Group C in the 2010/11 Europa League.
Aberdeen v NK Siroki Brijeg - KO 19:45 | Europa League Second Qualifying Round 1st Leg
We fancy Aberdeen to restore some pride in Scottish Football on the European stage after Rangers and St Johnstone were both knocked out by minnows in the first round of qualifying.
The Gers were knocked out by the fourth best side in Luxembourg, Pogres Niederkorn, whilst St Johnstone were comfortably beaten in both legs by FK Trakai of Lithuania.
The Dons do have an impressive recent record in the first two qualifying rounds of the Europa League, but they have been knocked out at the third time of asking in each of the last three seasons. Derek McInnes' men will look to replicate recent second round wins against Groningen, Rijeka and Ventspils, starting with victory on Thursday.
Aberdeen's home form trailed off towards the end of last season with three straight defeats against Rangers, Celtic and St Johnstone, but they had previously won 10 in a row at Pittodrie since Christmas.
Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia have made it past the second qualifying round just once since 2005 and have lost their only ever match in Scotland - a 3-0 defeat at Tynecastle in 2006.
Cork City v AEK Larnaca - KO 19:45 | Europa League Second Qualifying Round 1st Leg
Cork City will look to continue their fantastic form on Thursday with a win against AEK Larnaca of Cyprus.
The 2016/17 Ireland Premier Division runners-up have won all but one of their league matches so far this season (19/20) and have gotten off to a fantastic start in Europe with comfortable home and away wins against Levadia Tallinn in their first qualifying round ties.
John Caulfield's men made it past this stage of the competition last season with a win over BK Hacken of Sweden and have now lost just one of their last seven European matches at Turners Cross - against last season's eventual Quarter Finalists, Genk.
AEK Larnaca did make it past the first qualifying round, but failed to win in Gibraltar against Lincoln Red Imps for their second leg tie (1-1). They've now won just three of their 11 European away matches dating back to 2011.