3/7 Recap: It is fitting that I sat through a morphing rain/snow storm the past two days because the Champions League completely ransacked my confidence. I wasn’t able to register a single point yesterday as both Manchester City and Spurs lost, and neither of my props hit. It brings to an end a forgettable UCL run in which I had my worst performance in the series to date. Hopefully, the Europa League has better fortunes for me.
My picks: Manchester City 2 Basel 0 (Under 3 total goals)
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Juventus 1
Actual Results: Basel 2 Manchester City 1
Juventus 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Now let’s shake it off. Cue the Europa League theme! Don’t tell me that song doesn’t get you fired up, even for a lesser competition.
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
Dynamo Kyiv @ Lazio (3:05 PM ET/ESPN 3, WatchESPN)
I know that the marquee matchups are in the 1:00 PM ET games today in the Europa League. Milan plays Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid, two of the competition favorites, also play. But looking at the games I just cannot bring myself to pick any of them. Atletico killed me in the Champions League, Milan and Arsenal could go either way, and Dortmund is prone to letting up goals in bunches at inopportune times. So off to the 3:05 kickoffs I go.
Let me first stay that I love the staggered kickoffs in the Europa League. I know it is because they do all the matches on one day, but the Champions League could learn from that and allow viewers to be able to see both games on a particular matchday. If all the games were at the same time, I can assure you only fans of the two sides would watch Lazio and Dynamo Kyiv.
That’s a shame though because each side boasts one of the premier offenses of their respective leagues. Lazio has the revived Ciro Immobile, the leader for Serie A’s Capocannoniere (Italy’s Golden Boot). Also look out for the player who could move for major money this summer, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Dynamo has two of Ukraine’s top five leading scorers.
So needless to say, I think there will be goals in this one. If it was in Ukraine for the first leg, I’d think differently as most European teams that head that far east for opening contests play it close to the vest. But at the Stadio Olimpico, I think the goals fly in and the Over 2.5 goals (per Bovada) could be hit by halftime. I’ll take the home side to win outright.
PREDICTION: Lazio 3 Dynamo Kyiv 1 (Over 2.5 goals)
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
Zenit St. Petersburg @ Red Bull Leipzig (3:05 PM ET/Fox Sports 2, fuboTV)
I have a bit of a personal interest in picking this one. Red Bull Leipzig ousted “my Italian team” Napoli in the Round of 32. They also have Naby Keita, a man who will join “my English team” Liverpool in the summer. I want Leipzig to go as far as possible in this tournament, and get a better player for it ahead of the 2018-19 season.
But Leipzig has been in a recent poor run of form, with the first leg win over Napoli being their last W nearly a month ago. They can’t seem to find that goal when they need it and are unlucky in most cases to concede under dubious circumstances. However, while traveling to Russia for a second leg can always be problematic, Leipzig advanced purely on the road work they did in Naples. They can hold court at home.
That is of course unless like they’ve done on plenty of “Streak for the Cash” occasions (another rant for another day) Zenit St. Petersburg throws a monkey wrench into my plans. Zenit is struggling in the league by their standards. They already have more draws this season than they had all of last year. But when it comes to hunkering down and grinding out a gross result, they can do so.
That is why despite my temporary allegiance to Leipzig, I am taking Zenit to nick a shock win on the road. Even if this one ends in a draw, I am taking Zenit +1 (per Bovada) to hedge my bets.
PREDICTION: Zenit St. Petersburg 1 Red Bull Leipzig 0
If you have any games you’d like me to pick you can contact me on Twitter @TREVORutley. In addition to the available media listed for each game, be sure to try out our Gameview service while watching as well. Also, here is a link for my results throughout and the points system. Cheers!