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Europa Conference League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets for Thursday’s Quarterfinals

Europa Conference League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets for Thursday’s Quarterfinals article feature image

Pictured: West Ham United’s Tomas Soucek. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

The Europa Conference League heads to the second leg of the quarterfinals with West Ham/Gent and Nice/Basel all tied up, which sets us up for some great drama.

The Europa Conference League is the third tier of European competitions, but the prize at the end — a spot in the Europa League next season — is massive for all teams still involved. Every single club is sitting outside of a Europa League spot in their domestic leagues, so this competition means everything to them.

Here are projections for Thursday’s matches:

Conference League Odds & Picks

AZ Alkmaar vs. Anderlecht

AZ Alkmaar Odds-135
Anderlecht Odds+340
Over/Under2.5 (-120/ -115)
Day | TimeThursday |  12:45 p.m. ET
How To WatchParamount+
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

The first leg between these two was evenly played, despite Anderlecht winning 2-0. As you can see from the rolling shot chart below, there were a ton of low-quality chances for both teams, but Anderlecht’s happened to go in, while Alkmaar’s didn’t.

(Image via

A couple things to note about Anderlecht. First, if you know anything about the Belgian Pro League, they are one the most historic clubs in the country and have been a factory for developing young talent. Secondly, they’ve fallen on hard times and are in 10th place with one match to go in the regular season. They’re also coming off a 5-2 pasting at the hands of Genk, the league leaders. Thirdly, they’re expected goals record is terrible in Belgium — they only have a +0.10 xGD in the eighth-most difficult league by UEFA coefficients.

On the other hand, Alkmaar is putting up better underlying metrics in the sixth-most difficult league in Europe by UEFA coefficients. AZ Alkmaar has a +0.49 xGD per 90 minutes in the Netherlands and is set up to have the ball. Outside of Ajax, they have the highest passes per sequence and have the third-lowest direct speed in the Netherlands, per the Analyst.

In the first leg, although the xG were very even, Alkmaar did hold 51% possession, had 16 box entries (Anderlecht had 11) and took nine shots in the penalty box (Anderlecht took just four). The game plan changes for Anderlecht now as they’re going to be very passive on the road trying to defend this two-goal lead.

I have Alkmaar projected at -149, so I like the small amount of value on them at -135, which is available at BetMGM.

Cunningham’s Pick: AZ Alkmaar -135 

West Ham vs. Gent

West Ham Odds-165
Gent Odds+460
Over/Under2.5 (-104/ -118)
Day | TimeThursday |  3 p.m. ET
How To WatchParamount+
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

West Ham really weren’t that impressive as favorites in the first leg. The Hammers managed four total shots for the entire match, while Gent was able to get off a whopping 20 shots at home. However, in the end, it’s a good lesson on why expected goals matter because the accumulation of Gent’s 20 shots was 1.28 xG, while West Ham’s four shots was 1.15 xG.

Gent 1-1 West Ham

Finely poised for the 2nd leg.

West Ham only managed 4 shots, and have failed to win a Europa Conference League game for the first time this season, but it's all to play for at the London Stadium next week.

— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) April 13, 2023

It also goes to show why West Ham is one of the best low block teams in the Premier League as holding a team to an average xG per shot rating of 0.06 is really difficult.

The thing about Gent, which is important for a match like this, is they are a very possession based team. Over their past 17 matches — including the entirety of the knockout stage of the Europa Conference League — they have held over 50% possession in every single match, except for one match against Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League. So, even though West Ham is a Premier League club and the overwhelming favorite to go through, don’t be surprised if Gent holds a majority of the possession here.

Gent are allowing 1.22 xG per 90 minutes in an extremely high-event league in Belgium. During the Europa Conference League run, they’ve only allowed a total of 9.7 expected goals over 11 matches.

I only have 2.25 goals projected for this match, so I like the value on under 2.5 goals at -118 (FanDuel).

Cunningham’s Pick: Under 2.5 goals (-118) 

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