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Stuart Dalgleish 9th Mar 2011 - 18:23

Europa League previews

Braga v Liverpool Thursday 18:00 - live on Channel 5

Steven Gerrard has been ruled out of Liverpool's (7/5) tough looking tie in Portugal where they face Braga (21/10, draw 21/10).

The England midfielder had been struggling with a groin injury, but played the full 90 minutes in the Reds' win over arch-rivals Manchester United at the weekend.

That result will have put confidence in a squad that was looking like slipping back down the league again after a good run of results under Kenny Dalglish.

Dirk Kuyt (6/1 first goal) was the main man against United with his hat-trick, and he was also Liverpool's saviour in the previous round, scoring a late winner against Sparta Prague to secure a 1-0 aggregate win.

He is sure to play a pivotal role in this clash too as Liverpool aim to reach the quarter-finals for the second-straight season.

Andy Carroll (5/1) is in line to start after making his long awaited debut at the weekend, the 35 million-pound man scored his fair share of headers for Newcastle and we have a Match Winner special on him notching with his head in this match at a great price of 4/1.

You'd have to say that it's worth a punt, the big striker will be looking to get on the end of crosses and bully the Braga back-line, when he's 5/4 just to score at any time it really does look a cracking bet.

Of course, this won't be an easy match for Liverpool though; Braga have already defeated Arsenal at the Estadio AXA this season and that match was one of three in a row that the Portuguese side have won 2-0 (14/1 for a repeat) in European home games.

The scorer from the Arsenal game, Matheus, has since departed but they still have some good attacking options.

Rodrigo Lima (6/1) has a few goals in Europe this season, while former team-mates of Raul Meireles (15/2) Alan (8/1) and Helder Barbosa (12/1) are big threats.

Liverpool fans might also remember Hugo Viana (14/1), who arrived at Newcastle with a big reputation but failed to deliver, the midfielder scored in their win over Benfica at the weekend and possess a good free-kick.


PSV Eindhoven v Rangers - Thursday 18:00 live on ESPN

For the second round in a row, Rangers (6/1) face a formidable opponent as they head to the Phillips Stadion to play PSV Eindhoven (1/2, draw 3/1).

The Gers got over their Cup disappointment at the weekend as they beat St Mirren to keep the pressure on Celtic at the top of the SPL.

They will hope to, at the very least, make sure they are in this tie by the time the sides get back to Ibrox next Thursday for the second leg and keep up their dreams of a treble.

They will take heart from the fact that PSV have slipped up a couple of times at home recently, drawing with Ajax and losing to ADO Den Haag in the last month or so, both times without scoring, in the group stage they also drew twice at the Phillips Stadion so they aren't totally invincible on their own patch.

Rangers also are yet to lose to PSV in four previous meetings, with the Scottish side being the first team to beat PSV at home in Europe way back in 1978, the last of these matches was over 10 years ago when current player Wilfred Bouma (12/1 first goal) featured for Eindhoven.

A lot has changed since that meeting in the Champions League though; with Rangers having far less finances to buy the type of players they had then, the Gers' squad is much changed and is depleted even still from the quality they do have remaining.

Steven Naismith, Lee McCulloch, Jamie Ness, Nikica Jelavic and Kirk Broadfoot are all sidelined through one way or another, but Walter Smith has included Kyle Lafferty (9/1 first goal) and Vladimir Weiss (14/1) in his 18-man squad.

The duo if fit are likely to operate on the wings with El Hadji Diouf (10/1) an option for a lone striker role, the Senegalese star opened the scoring in Lisbon in the last round and has fitted in well since arriving from Blackburn on loan.

It will be a massive task for the Scottish side to come away with a positive result, with Balazs Dzsudzsak (11/4) in fine form for PSV I'd expect the hosts to win this one, but Rangers could frustrate them and keep the scoring down, 2-0 at 11/2 seems a decent bet.


Dynamo Kiev v Man City - Thursday 20:05 live on ITV4

The final British team in action on Thursday night is Man City (7/4) who face the always tough task of a trip to the Ukraine to play Dynamo Kiev (8/5, draw 11/5).

The Citizens, like Rangers, have hopes of a treble after keeping pace with their local rivals United by beating Wigan at the weekend, they are also in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

They were far from at their best against the Latics, after David Silva's fortunate opener they seemed to sit on their lead and nearly paid for it as Wigan hit the woodwork and wasted other good opportunities.

At this stage of the season though, points are the most important thing and they got all three.

I think City will be happy to just sit on whatever they can get in Kiev, it's notoriously a tough place to go to and the players will not like the conditions.

Dynamo are unbeaten in six European games and haven't lost in six home matches, Barcelona the last time to win at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Stadium back in 2009.

Silva (8/1) has good memories of the stadium though as he bagged a goal for Valencia there two years ago as the Spanish side progressed in the UEFA Cup.

He and his City colleagues will be up against the legendary Andriy Shevchenko (5/1), the former Milan and Chelsea ace scored one of his few Premier League goals against the Citizens and is still a massive threat.

Roberto Mancini will still field a decent team, but he will have one eye on the weekend when his team play in the quarters of the FA Cup against Reading, after seeing the Royals beat Everton in the previous round he can't afford to put out a complete reserve team in that match.



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