Europa League Group H Round-Up – 08/12/16
Europa League Group H Round-Up – 08/12/16
In our Europa League Group H Round-Up we look at the best possible betting tips for these fixtures.
SC Braga v Shakhtar Donetsk
On Thursday evening in Group H, Jose Peseiro’s Braga and Paulo Fonseca’s Shakhtar Donetsk play their final game as they face off at the Estadio Municipal de Braga.
These two sides met back in late September, playing at the Arena Lviv. Shakhtar not only had the home advantage, but were also continuing some impressive form, which was easy to see as they netted after five minutes through midfielder Taras Stepanenko. Despite Braga’s efforts to get into the game, it was all for nothing as the second half opened up with another onslaught from Shakhtar, resulting in a Viktor Kovalenko strike in the 56th minute. They then played out the game as a 2-0 win, cancelling out any attempts from Braga and coming out of the game as winners. It showed an even stronger dominance over the group, which they were top of since the start of the fixtures.
Home side Braga will definitely qualify for the next round if they grab an outsider win over Shakhtar. A defeat as well as a win for third place Gent will see the Belgium side overtake them in the group, leaving them with a shock bottom half finish. They are expected to put up a fight and qualify though, but the worry will remain for Jose Peseiro’s side as Gent are certain favourites to defeat Konyaspor in the other Group H fixture. It’s not the first time Gent have tried to fight off Braga’s lead over them either, as they showed in their last game against them. Braga were expected to win after Nikola Stojiljkovic scored 14 minutes in, but were held back when Gent equalised after a further 18 minutes. The Portuguese side went ahead again not long after before being held to a certain draw through another crucial Gent goal, playing out the second half goalless and taking a fair point.
Away side Shakhtar Donetsk have shown almost complete domination over Group H, scoring seventeen and conceding only three goals against the other three sides. They’ve already qualified for the next round and will be seeing this final match as an opportunity to show their strength, even past the point of needing it. Braga have been the second best side in the group, but Shakhtar have a nine point lead over the side, so they haven’t troubled them enough to be a genuine threat. Their last game had them hosting Turkish side Gent, where they thrashed them four goals to nil courtesy of goals from former Arsenal forward Eduardo, Dentinho, Bernard as well as a Abdulkerim Bardakci own goal.
Both teams to score (Best priced at 3/4 on Coral) – BET HERE
Over 2.5 goals (Best priced at 37/40 on BetVictor) – BET HERE
Konyaspor v Gent
The final fixture in Group H sees Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s Gent attempting to pull off a last minute push to second, as they play Aykut Kocaman’s Konyaspor at the Torku Arena.
These two sides played each other at the end of September, with it being played out similar to how fans predicted. It opened up with Gent fighting for an early goal, which was achieved easily as they brought opposition goalkeeper Serkan Kirintili out of his goal, striking into an open net through an upwardly aimed shot from Kenny Saief. They were then able to double their lead after half an hour when a cross from Hannes Van der Bruggen met the head of Renato Neto, who forcibly headed it past Kirntili. The rest of the match was played out safely for Gent, which appeared to be the safest strategy as they came away with all three points.
Home side Konyaspor are out of the tournament after too many poor performances, but can still inflict some harm by holding back their opposition from a potential second place finish, depending also on Braga’s result against Shakhtar. They’ve been one of the distinctly worse teams in the Europa League this season, losing four and drawing one game, leaving them with a single point from all of their fixtures. Their last game had them up against top-place Shakhtar Donetsk, where they were completely dominated once again, conceding four times and looking as fragile as ever. Although their eleven conceded goals in Group H is far from being something to gloat about, it’s oddly beaten by Gent, who have conceded fourteen times.
Away side Gent have got a tough challenge on their hands, having the possibility of moving up to second on the condition that they win and Braga lose – both perfectly possible as Shakhtar are the strongest side in the group and Konyaspor aren’t, but it’s still sure to be a tense encounter, especially if Braga are able to fight for a draw. Their last game saw them trying to knock Braga away from their second place position. Nikola Stojiljkovic went ahead after 14 minutes but Gent reacted with a strike from Kalifa Coulibaly. They were determined to stay in front though, scoring again before half-time, but Gent cancelled it out once more, equalising through Danijel Milicevic and taking the game to a draw. Midfielder Danijel Milicevic has been an important figure in Europe, scoring twice, assistant once and always being a decisive figure in the Belgian side.
Gent to win (Best priced at 1/1 on BetWay) – BET HERE
Over 2.5 goals (Best priced at 11/10 on Coral) – BET HERE
Check out our other Europa League Betting Previews HERE
Watch highlights from Gent’s tense 2-2 draw with Braga here: