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Europa League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For Ajax vs Union Berlin, Leverkusen vs Monaco

Europa League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For Ajax vs Union Berlin, Leverkusen vs Monaco article feature image

BSR Agency/Getty. Pictured: Dusan Tadic.

  • Union Berlin, Leverusen, Ajax and Monaco all feature on Thursday in the Europa League.
  • Soccer expert Anthony Dabbundo previews the four games.
  • Read on for his best bets and picks.

After two days of Champions League action that featured few goals and tentative managerial approaches, all attention shifts to Thursday’s eight game Europa League slate for some drama.

The tournament is down to 24 teams, with eight receiving byes to the round of 16. The playoff round will take place over the next seven days – home and away – and features some high profile matchups.

Barcelona takes on Manchester United in a battle more often seen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma takes on RB Salzburg in a matchup of contrasting styles.

Dark horses Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco will square off in this round, while German title challengers Union Berlin will battle struggling Ajax.

The matches are split across two different windows on Thursday, at 12:45 p.m. and 3 p.m. ET.

Here are my two bet bets for the first legs of this knockout round.

Europa League Odds & Picks

Ajax vs Union Berlin

Ajax Odds -110
Union Berlin Odds +290
Draw +240
Over/Under 2.5 (-108 / -114)
Day | Time Thursday |  12:45 p.m. ET
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Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

After Ajax dominated the Eredivisie last season and rolled through the Champions League group stage, the club has faced turmoil this season.

They lost a ton of talent and manager Erik ten Hag in the offseason, so some regression was to be expected. No one thought they’d fall this far. The club fired manager Alfred Schreuder at the end of January after a run of poor results in domestic play.

The underlying performances had certainly slipped from last season’s highs as well, but he was also quite unlucky from a finishing variance perspective. Some of the talent on this team is still there and they were playing much below their expected levels.

With former Dutch defender Johnny Heitinga in the manager’s box, they’ve seen improved form and positive variance under him. They’ve won four straight matches in the Netherlands, but still sit three points behind Feyenoord in the table.

I think the Europa League is now second priority for Union Berlin, given their second position in the German Bundesliga table. As a result, you could see some squad rotation from Urs Fischer. Union’s defend deep and don’t press approach will struggle against Ajax’s possession dominance.

Union have major regression coming and I think Ajax will comfortably win at home on Thursday.

Dabbundo’s Pick: Ajax ML (-110)

Bayer Leverkusen vs AS Monaco

Leverkusen Odds


Monaco Odds

Draw +260
Over/Under 2.5 (-142 / +116)
Day | Time Thursday |  3 p.m. ET
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Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Leverkusen thrive when games become stretched and they’re able to use their pace and guile to exploit teams in transition. That becomes an issue in a two-legged knockout tie when Monaco will come to Germany looking to defend and force Leverkusen to beat them in this matchup.

From a true talent perspective, these two teams are roughly equals, with a slight nod to Monaco. Leverkusen have roughly the sixth-best underlying numbers in Germany this season and Monaco are third-best in France by my numbers. Germany is the stronger league on aggregate, especially in the upper mid-table.

Monaco’s defensive profile is one that suggests they don’t really want to control the possession or the space. They’re just ninth in France in possession rate and 14th in expected threat allowed. Yet, their defensive numbers remain solid as a whole and teams don’t generate many big scoring chances against them.

That’s the kind of defensive profile that can frustrate Leverkusen and force them to overcommit in this first leg at home. When they do, there will be gaps in behind this Leverkusen defense that is 12th in Germany in big scoring chances allowed.

I’d probably bet Leverkusen +0.5 in Monaco, but with the onus on Leverkusen to create, I’m happy to take the half-goal with Monaco in this first leg.

Dabbundo’s Pick: Monaco +0.5 (-120 or better)

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