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Jon Riley 14th Dec 2011 - 12:42

Thursday's Europa League preview

Thursday's Europa League Preview

Shamrock Rovers v Tottenham Hotspur | 18:00 - live on ITV4

Spurs take on Rovers in their final Group A fixture but the question is, will it be their final Europa League fixture of the season completely. Despite their great work in the Premier League so far this campaign, they are teetering on the brink of elimination in Europe and must hope for a win in Ireland coupled with a defeat for second-placed Rubin Kazan who travel to group leaders PAOK.

Spurs must also overhaul a five goal difference in the GD column so the likes of Jermain Defoe (10/3 first scorer), Roman Pavlyuchenko (9/2) and Harry Kane (5/1) must come out firing. I guess it largely depends on how important Harry Redknapp views the Europa League in his list of priorities as to what kind of squad he takes with him.

Shamrock took a shock 1-0 lead in the reverse fixture between the teams at White Hart Lane, Stephen Rice (25/1) sending the noisy Rovers' fans into absolute ecstasy. Unfortunately for those fans, their dreams were ended by a three goal Tottenham salvo shortly afterwards. A repeat of that scoreline can be backed at 11/1.

Match betting: Shamrock 13/2 Draw 16/5 Tottenham 4/9
Recommendation: Tottenham -2 goals 16/5

Birmingham v Maribor | 20:05 - live on ITV4

Regardless of whether they qualify through to the knockout stages or not, Birmingham can be rightly proud of their European campaign. The Championship side are reliant on Braga beating Club Brugge to progress while they must also defeat Group H bottom side NK Maribor.

Chris Hughton will surely pair Chris Wood and Marlon King (Both 4/1 first scorer) while Chris Burke (15/2) has excelled in front of goal chipping in with vital goals from midfield.

The stats all seem to point for a good night ahead for the home fans on Thursday evening. Since losing to Braga at St Andrews in September, the Blues have gone six games unbeaten and have already beaten Maribor 2-1 (correct score 15-2) in the reverse tie.

The Slovenians main danger will undoubtedly come in the form of striker Dalibor Volas. The Maribor frontman has scored four of his team's five goals in the group stage and can be backed at 15/2 to open the scoring.

Match betting: Birmingham 8/15 Draw 3/1 Maribor 5/1
Recommendation: Under 2.5 goals at 10/11

Udinese v Celtic | 20:05 - live on ESPN

Celtic face an uphill task if they are to remain in Europe. The Hoops will be without three regular first-team players when they take on Udinese in their crucial Europa League match. Joe Ledley, Glenn Loovens and Adam Matthews did not travel to Italy with the rest of his squad on Wednesday.

Neil Lennon's side must win their final Group I game in order to progress to the knock-out stages. However, no Celtic side has ever won in Italy and they square up against a Udinese team that are joint top of Serie A.

The William Hill Match Winner for the night is for a penalty to be scored in the game priced at 3/1, enhanced form 11/4.

Match betting: Udinese 8/13 Draw 13/5 Celtic 5/1
Recommendation: Di Natale first scorer 3/1



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