Europa League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal, Roma vs Real Sociedad

Europa League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Best Bets For Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal, Roma vs Real Sociedad article feature image

MB Media/Getty. Pictured: Francisco Trincao.

The Europa League is down to 16 teams after some dramatic finishes in the playoff round in February. The EL group winners join the knockout competition in this round and were paired with the eight winners from the playoff round to make the draw from the final 16.

Arsenal will travel to Portugal to take on Sporting Lisbon, and the Gunners could rotate some of their main starting XI to focus on the Premier League title race. Roma vs Real Sociedad is likely to be a tactical and defensive battle that's currently lined as a tossup over two legs. Union Berlin and Union Saint-Gilloise will face off for the third time this season after two meetings in the group stage.

Manchester United lost by seven goals at Liverpool last weekend, but the Red Devils are solid favorites against Real Betis in their matchup. With the first legs kicking on Thursday, here are my two best bets for the Europa League round of 16.

Europa League Odds & Picks

Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal

Sporting Lisbon Odds+250
Arsenal Odds+110
Over/Under2.5 (+100 / -125)
Day | TimeThursday |  12:45 a.m. ET
How To WatchParamount+
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Mikel Arteta's side is dealing with a bit of an injury crisis in the attacking bunch, and it's easy to see him rotate his team with the Premier League serving as a much bigger focus at the moment. Gabriel Jesus remains out, Eddie Nketiah is unlikely to return Thursday and Leandro Trossard picked up an injury in the dramatic comeback win against Bournemouth on Saturday.

The injuries to Trossard, Nketiah and Jesus leave Arsenal without a true striker for this match, and Gabriel Martinelli is the likely central forward replacement. He puts up decent shot numbers for a wide forward, but he hasn't been in great form of late and isn't an ideal central forward in an Arteta system. Arteta is also likely to rotate Thomas Partey, who has been battling some injury through the last month of the season.

Arsenal have elite underlying numbers when the entire first XI is fit, but that's far from the case for this away leg to Sporting. Although Sporting have been inconsistent in Portugal this season, they've been quite solid in Europe. The Portuguese side beat Spurs at home and completely denied Spurs from creating clear scoring chances. They were unlucky to not advance to the knockout stage as they had better underlying numbers than Marseille and Eintracht Frankfurt in the group and collapsed a late lead on the final day.

Lisbon are comfortable out of possession and Arsenal will leak goals in transition defensively without Partey on the pitch. This is also a major flat spot overall for Arsenal following the dramatic late victory against Bournemouth. I'm betting Sporting +0.5 and sprinkling the moneyline as a home underdog in the first leg in this motivational mismatch.

Dabbundo's Picks: Sporting Lisbon +0.5 (-140 or better) | Sporting ML (+250)

Roma vs Real Sociedad

Roma Odds+110
Sociedad Odds+275
Over/Under2.5 (+162/ -200)
Day | TimeThursday |  12:45 p.m. ET
How To WatchParamount+
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

Two of the best defenses in Europe will face off over two legs when Real Sociedad play Roma. Despite their style as a very defensive team that likes to play without the ball and hit teams in transition under José Mourinho, the market is too low on the quality of their attack at creating chances with this total. Just because they play a defensive style doesn't mean that Roma aren't also fourth in Serie A in xG created and second in big scoring chances created.

They've also got positive regression coming in attack, as they've finished well below their xG total for the entire season. Because Roma have the first leg at home, they also need to be a bit more aggressive than Mourinho typically would want to be in a first leg of a European tie.

Real Sociedad have one of the most effective presses in all of Spain and they're good at forcing high turnovers and using that to create good goal scoring opportunities. Sociedad's defensive press means they don't concede a ton of shots, but they also don't have long possessions with lots of short passes. La Real are middle of the league in pass completion rate and are second-best at disrupting opponent passing.

Serie A as a whole isn't really a high pressing league, so Sociedad could effectively spring a press on the Italian side and force errors from the back line as Roma try to build out in possession.

The total has gotten bet down too low in this matchup. My projections are sitting right at 2.25 goals for this match, and I'll bet the over 2 at -120 or better. I'll also add both teams to score at +120, because one goal forces action to come at both ends of the pitch.

Dabbundo's Picks: Over 2 (-115), Both Teams to Score – Yes (+120)

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