European Soccer Forecast: Projected Betting Odds, Totals For Thursday’s Europa League Second Leg Quarterfinal Matches (April 15)
Marc Atkins/Getty Images. Pictured Paul Pogba
The Europa League second leg kicks off Thursday with spots in the semifinals on the line. In case you missed it, here are the results from the first leg:
⏰ RESULTS ⏰
Who did it best tonight? 🤔
🟡 Gerard Moreno gives Villarreal advantage
🐺 Ibañez scores late Roma winner
⚽️ Slavia Praha net stoppage time equaliser
🔴 Manchester United win in Spain #UEL
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 8, 2021
There is still a ton on the line for everyone left in the competition because the title winner earns a spot in Champions League next season. So for teams like Arsenal, Villarreal and Roma — who are currently outside the top four in their respective domestic leagues — it gives them another shot at qualifying for the prestigious European showcase next season.
If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projected lines and totals using an expected goals model, you can do so here.
For the Europa League, my projections factor in UEFA Coefficients for every country represented. The projections also take into consideration the talent of each squad based on their total transfer value on TransferMarkt.
That way, the projections can account for the strength of the domestic league each club plays in and the talent level of each team.
Manchester United vs. Granada
Manchester United dominated the first leg, winning 2-0 at Granada. The Red Devils controlled the entire match from start to finish, controlling 66% of the possession. Manchester United wouldn’t let Granada on the ball, completing 459 passes compared to 145 for Granada.
Controlling that much possession and completing that many passes allowed them to win the expected goals battle 2.27 to 0.43. As you can see, Granada had a lot of shot opportunities, but none of them were even close to a high quality chance (map via infogol).
Granada has been struggling in La Liga this season, as they’re currently in ninth place and have only three wins in their last 12 matches in La Liga play. Their underlying metrics are horrific as well, as they are only creating 1.05 xG per match, while allowing 1.59 xG per match.
The Red Devils secured a win on the road over Tottenham last Sunday which all but secured their second-place spot in the Premier League. However, it has only the fourth-best expected goal differential and are fourth in expected points. Either way, Manchester United only needs a draw or to lose by one, so I’d expect them to play very defensive in the second leg.
With Manchester United playing defensive and Granada struggling to create chances in front of net this season, I think we are going to see a low-scoring affair. Therefore, I am going to back Under 2.5 goals at +100 odds (DraftKings).
Pick: Under 2.5 (+100)
Slavia Prague vs. Arsenal
Arsenal had a 1-0 advantage, but gave away a crucial late away goal in the 94th minute despite dominating the entire match.
arsenal gonna arsenal pic.twitter.com/mlM9Zd1Smf
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) April 8, 2021
Arsenal really should have walked away with a first-leg advantage because they dominated the Czech champions in every aspect of the match. The Gunners out-created Slavia Prague 2.27 expected goals to 0.73. Arsenal created three big chance (35% chance or higher of scoring), but could not put any of them in the back of the net. On the flip side, the final goal by Slavia Prague was the only chance over 0.10 xG they created all match.
Arsenal earned a routine 3-0 victory over last-place Sheffield United in the Premier League over the weekend. However, the Gunners have struggled to create chances this season in England, averaging only 1.37 xG per match. That said, Mikel Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 system has been solid defensively this season, allowing only 1.23 xG per 90 minutes.
Slavia Prague has only lost twice this season and has done it with their defense. In the Europa League, it has allowed only 1.29 xG per match; however, their offense hasn’t done much in the knockout stage, as it’s created only 3.76 xG over their five matches.
I think the current moneyline, spread, and over/under doesn’t provide much value, so I am going to pass on this game.
Villarreal vs. Dinamo Zagreb
Villarreal earned a 1-0 away advantage in the first leg by playing the fantastic defense for which they are known. They held 56% possession, completed 202 more passes, and outshot Zagreb 14-11. The final expected goal line ended Villarreal 1.62 to Zagreb’s 0.59, so it was a well deserved 1-0 victory by the Spanish side.
Despite making it all the way to Europa League quarterfinals, Dinamo Zagreb really isn’t that great of a team by Europe’s standards. The team’s expected goals in the Croatian First Division aren’t really that impressive for playing in the 18th-most difficult league Europe, scoring 1.96 xG per match while allowing 1.14 xG per outing.
Villarreal have a fantastic defensive record in Spain, allowing only 1.03 xG per match. Their offense is no slouch either, as they’re averaging 1.60 xG per match, which is actually better than both Atletico Madrid and Sevilla in La Liga.
Even though I am showing some value on Villarreal, I am going to pass on this match. Villarreal is likely to play very defensive since all they need is a draw to advance to the semifinals.
Roma vs. Ajax
Roma stole two late goals in the Netherlands to gain a 2-1 advantage heading back to Italy. Ajax had this game put away after opening up the scoring with a brilliant piece of team play.
Davy Klaassen starts and ends the move. Cool as you like. ❄️ pic.twitter.com/jKh4cLAEHY
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) April 8, 2021
However, the Dutch champions missed a penalty in the 53rd minute to go up 2-0 and Roma answered with a goal four minutes later to level things up at 1-1. Roma then grabbed a late winner in the 87th minutes with a stunning goal by Roger Ibañez.
Roma have been flying high this season, as they’ve been one of the highest-scoring teams in Italy, averaging 1.99 xG per match. The reason for their elite offensive output is because Roma has switched to a 3-4-2-1 formation this season, which has made a world of a difference, as Roma is averages +1.08 xGD per 90 minutes when playing out of that formation, per Understat.
Ajax really should have walked away with a first-leg advantage because they dominated Roma on expected goals. 3.21 to 0.71.
Creating 3.21 expected goals in the first leg is not surprising for Ajax because they are one of the most lethal teams in front of net in all of Europe. In the Dutch Eredivisie this season, they are averaging a whopping 2.53 xG per match.
They also have an incredibly talented squad with a fantastic mixture of talent and experience from guys like Daley Blind, Davy Klaassen, and Dušan Tadić.
This is going to be a very interesting match with Ajax having to play an all-out attacking style of football to try to overcome the deficit. It should be a free-flowing match with a ton of chances at both ends, so I think we are going to see a high-scoring affair.
Since I have 3.50 goals projected for this match, I am going to back Over 3.5 goals at +125 (DraftKings).
Pick: Over 3.5 goals (+125)
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