William Hill Online Help Centre Close Detach
  • Change view:

William Hill Online Sports Betting - Live Football, Horse Racing, Greyhounds, Sports & Games

Rupert Wyman 23rd Feb 2010 - 16:55

The Europa League, a competition to win but not defend!

Unirea host Liverpool in the second leg of the Europa League knock-out phase on Thursday to decide who goes through to the next round. Benitez has little to play for domestically in England, due to Liverpool's inconsistent and overall poor season.

They have already been knocked out of both cups domestically and are in a battle to land the lauded fourth league spot and with that a place in next seasons Champions League.

Benitez does not see the Europa League as a distraction, he sees it as a source of 'renewed hope' and a chance for silverware this season.

The match is potentially 'season defining' because if Liverpool beat Unirea and go on to win the competition, the season will not be seen as a disaster.

Liverpool go into the match having played one of the most dull and worst  goalless draws in Premier League history on Sunday against Manchester City. Neither side seemed capable of breaking each other down.

It shows that Liverpool have not put their failings right from earlier this season, they have few players of creativity outside of Torres, Gerrard and Benayoun. Their squad depth is poor and if they are overcome by injuries, they struggle to play as a team.

However, they are still very dangerous from set pieces and with the return of Torres as a substitute on Thursday, they have players in him and Gerrard that can turn a game around instantaneously.

Since January, Benitez has adapted Liverpool's style of play, they are more solid and they have been difficult to break down. However, they still lack that killer creativity and the ability to play good football, their better players have been defenders, like the magnificent Skrtel against Manchester City.

They are struggling to score goals and until Torres is fully fit, it is unlikely that they will take teams apart. They have only managed to hit the net once in their last three games.

Against Unirea, both Benayoun and Torres will play a part in the match and there is no-one Liverpool fans would prefer to see than Torres scoring from Benayoun's  crosses. Johnson is definitely out with a knee injury and Danid Ngog is an injury doubt with an ankle problem but he should participate.

The Romanians lost 1-0 at Anfield and they will be forced to attack in the second leg. This is a tactic that should play into Liverpool's plans as the Romanians cannot afford to play deep. Liverpool will expose them on the counter attack.

I would have a good size bet on this match, on the Liverpool 90 minute victory, it is short odds at 8/11 but with the return of Torres and Benayoun, I cannot foresee any other outcome.  I would also have a small flutter on Fernando Torres to be the last scorer at 7/2, he will come off the bench and he always takes his chances.

Can Liverpool progress in this competition? It is a remarkable one in that Benitez would love to win the competition yet he hopes he does not have to defend it next season.  With Benayoun and Torres returning, there should be an improvement in play in the final third, guaranteeing success.



View AllPlay Games


View AllRupert Wyman