Europa League Odds, Picks: Thursday’s Best Bets, Including Nantes vs. Juventus, Manchester United vs. Barcelona

Europa League Odds, Picks: Thursday’s Best Bets, Including Nantes vs. Juventus, Manchester United vs. Barcelona article feature image

Pictured: The Manchester United players in action during a first team training session. (Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

The Europa League provided most of the fireworks and goals last week in midweek European football, and the playoff round ties will conclude this Thursday with the return fixtures. Barcelona and Manchester United is once again the headliner after the two played to a thrilling 2-2 draw in Spain last week. United may have the EFL Cup final on Sunday, but Erik ten Hag has made it clear he's not planning to rotate on Thursday.

Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco played a first-leg classic in Germany, and Monaco stole it late with a stoppage-time goal to win 3-2. As the scene shifts to Monaco with them up a goal, Leverkusen has plenty of firepower to turn the tide. Union Berlin is home after dominating Ajax in Amsterdam, but settling for a goalless draw. There's eight matches on Thursday in the Europa League — and eight in the Europa Conference League.

Here are my two best bets for Thursday's action:

Europa League Odds & Picks

Nantes  vs. Juventus

Nantes Odds


Juventus Odds

Over/Under2.5 (+126/ -152)
Day | TimeThursday | 12:45 p.m. ET
How To WatchParamount+
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute Soccer odds here.

When you think of Juventus during Max Allegri's tenure, the matches have often been low scoring, without many chances and, for lack of a better word, dull. Juventus tied Nantes 1-1 at home in the first leg and now travels to the midtable French side needing a result. Juventus has more quality and is favored to win, but there are major flaws in the Juventus defense when looking under the hood.

No defense in Italy allows a higher pass completion rate than Juventus at 83%. They don't press at all and while they do defend the penalty area well, there are some troubling indicators that suggest they're due for regression in opponent finishing.

They've conceded just 17 goals from 25 xGA this season, but no team has allowed more passes into their final third and they are middle of the road at stopping crosses and passes into the penalty area.

There is a question of whether Juve forward Federico Chiesa will be available for this match, but this is a great opportunity for Nantes to come out firing at home and take advantage of Juventus' passivity. Nantes actually had a higher field tilt and more than 1.0 expected threat in Turin last week. Now at home, I'm expecting them to come out and try to go at Juventus early.

Juve will settle in and score against a middling Nantes defense in France, but this is a match that could be more open than the market is suggesting with a total of 2.25. I bet Both Teams to Score Yes and Over 2.5, both at plus money.

Dabbundo's Pick: Both Teams to Score Yes (+100 or better) and Over 2.5 Goals (+120 or better)

Manchester United  vs. Barcelona

Manchester United Odds


Barcelona Odds

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

Both attacks had their way with the opposing defenses in the first leg. Barcelona's defense has been excellent in the slow tempo and possession-based Spanish matches, but they've now been repeatedly exposed when facing quality competition in Europe. Inter Milan, Bayern Munich and Manchester United all scored consistently and found success in transitional moments once Barcelona lost possession.

United set up to not have the ball, clog up the middle spaces and break with pace upon winning the ball. It enabled them to produce 2.1 xG, 18 shots and an absurd 11 carries into the Barcelona penalty area.

We also saw some of the United defensive flaws as they were unable to stop ball progression up the wings and Raphinha caused issues with his dribbling and crossing, which ultimately led to Barcelona's equalizer. Despite the tactical switches each manager may make, I remain skeptical of either defense's ability to shut down these attacks.

You're likely to see a less wide open and more cautious Barcelona in this second leg on the road. But even despite that, both attacks are in excellent form and should create enough to get on the board. You often see both managers play not to lose down the stretch in the second leg between two evenly matched teams, and that could be the case Thursday if it's tied after halftime.

If either team leads, neither defense has shown they can absorb pressure well and keep the other out. I agree with the 3-way moneyline market, but I'm instead targeting a prop on both teams to score and the game to go to extra time (draw) at +320.

Dabbundo's Pick: Both Teams to Score and Draw (+320)

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