Thursday nights, ITV4: Liverpool v Udinese
Europa League betting
Switch over to ITV4 tonight as the second round of Europa League matches take place. Spurs acquitted themselves well against Lazio in their first match but will want to take all three points from their visit to Panathanikos. Likewise, Newcastle started with a draw but face a tougher prospect tonight as they look to break down Bordeaux at home. The choice tie of the night though see’s Liverpool host Udinese in what would have been a Champions League quality fixture a few years ago.
Liverpool were unlucky to draw a group including Anzhi, who now top the Russian league, Swiss side Young Boys and third place finishers in Serie A last season, Udinese. But their swaggering 5-3 win away in Berne, with what was largely a reserve side, was impressive and up until their demolition of Norwich at the weekend, was totally at odds with their league displays. Brendan Rodgers included two teenagers in his starting XI in Switzerland and despite including two 30-somethings, Brad Jones and Jamie Carragher, the average age of the starting eleven was just 24.
Liverpool’s ‘kids’ were fantastic going forward and bar a goalkeeping mistake from Brad Jones and a lack of discipline on the counter they would have won by a more convincing score line. Jonjo Shelvey scored twice as a substitute and after seeing red domestically is likely to be given game time tonight. Andre Wisdom captained the England under-17 side to a European Championship title in 2010 and despite being a centre-back by trade he was been deployed at right back by Rodgers and acquitted himself fantastically.
Udinese have started the current season indifferently and might still be suffering from their Champions League qualifier defeat to Braga on penalties. Their league form has been mixed; they beat AC Milan 2-1 for their only domestic win but have drawn their last two games 0-0. A 1-1 against high-flying Anzhi in Europe was a good result and they will probably play for the draw tonight. The summer departures of Mauricio Isla and Kwadwo Asamoah to Juventus have been heavily felt and at 34 years of age, Di Natale can’t be expected to keep getting 20 a season for the Bianconeri.
Liverpool’s young Europa League team impressed last time out, but they will concede chances. Antonio Di Natale is one of the best finishers in Italy and he will punish any mistakes Liverpool make at the back. Udinese may play for the draw and I can’t see it finishing goalless. Back 1-1 at 8/1 or go for 2-2 at 12/1.
Elsewhere in Europe the meeting between PSV and Napoli should be a belter. Both clubs enjoyed their heyday in the 1980’s, with Mardona inspiring Napoli to a scudetto in 1987 and 1990 and PSV winning Champions Club Cup in 1988, beating Benfica on penalties. Both teams have enjoyed a fantastic start to the 2012/13 season and there should be goals in this match. PSV won 6-0 last time out, including an 11 minute hat trick from 18-year-old Jurgen Locadia on his Erevidisie debut. Napoli are joint on points with Serie A leaders Juventus and have already scored 12 conceding just two in Serie A. Back over 3.5 goals at 9/5 or the Napoli win which is great value at 16/5.
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