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David Thompson 19th Sep 2012 - 12:11

Thursday's UEFA Europa League preview

Tottenham v Lazio

The squad will be going into their opening Europa Group J tie with renewed confidence after picking up their first Premier League win against Reading on Sunday. Unlike under Harry Redknapp's stewardship, new manager Andre Villas-Boas has vowed to take the Europa League seriously this season and name his strongest available side.

The manager has previous with Europe's second tier competition having won the cup with FC Porto in 2011. He has experience with the demands of managing a squad that would have to play an extra 15 games before reaching the final, and he will need all of it if Tottenham are to lift a European trophy for the first time since 1984,when they defeated Anderlecht on penalties to win the Uefa Cup.

Spurs will not have an easy start. Lazio are the form team going into this fixture with new manager Vladimir Petkovic winning all five of his games in Serie A and the Europa League qualifiers. This will be the first time that these two have met in Europe and Gazza is probably the strongest link between the two of them.

If Tottenham name a team sheet similar to that on Sunday then they should have the quality to win this one at odds of 17/20. However the value sides with Lazio. 10/3 about the victory looks good; however my money would be on the 21/10 Draw No Bet market.

The enhanced wincast Headline Offers could be a must. 34-year-old Miroslav Klose only turns up on the big occasions and will relish a run out against English opposition. Enhanced from 9/2 to a massive 8/1, can the German international score in a Lazio win? For Spurs we've had to centre on Gareth Bale. Sensational in his debut season in the Champions League the winger is 4/1, originally 11/4, to find the net in a Tottenham win.

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Maritimo v Newcastle

Alan Pardew looked on from the stands on Monday as Shola Ameobi produced a sublime chest down to set up this season's top goalscorer Demba Ba for a last minute equaliser to earn a point against Everton in yet another controversial game. Two goals were disallowed for the home side that looked the better team in what was an endorsement for Premier League football.

Pardew's side now travel to Portugal to embark on their European adventure, however, they will be taking a much changed team from that which played at Goodison. It has emerged since the 2-2 draw with The Toffees that their Senegalese talisman Ba is unsettled at The Sports Direct Arena. News has surfaced that since the signing of international team-mate Cisse, Demba has been dissatisfied with his role in the Magpies team. Starting on the substitute's bench on Monday night sparked the rumours of his discontent however the manger is confident that his players are in the right frame of mind to compete in all competitions this season.

Newcastle's last game against Portuguese opposition ended in disappointment as they were knocked out of the Uefa Cup by Sporting Lisbon at the quarter-final stage in 2005. Maritimo have made an unbeaten start to the season in La Liga in Portugal and go into the home tie with just the one absentee, Rodrigo Antonio, who was sent off in their play-off clash with FC Dila of Georgia.

11/5 for a Newcastle victory looks to represent value, but bear in mind that the team playing will be a second string side playing against opposition that will be keen to test their ability against an English Premier League opponent. Both Teams To Score looks to be the stand out bet at 19/20, and Over 2.5 Goals could be worth a look at odds of 6/5.

For the enhanced wincast Headline Offers, Demba Ba has caught our attention and has been improved to 5/1 from 11/4 to score in a Newcastle win, whilst for Maritimo their Brazilian striker Fidelis is a 9/2 shot, originally 16/5!

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Young Boys v Liverpool

England's most successful European side will feel themselves fortunate to be competing in Europe's second tier competition this year's after scrapping through to qualifying virtue of their runner's up to Chelsea in the FA Cup last season. Everton may feel aggrieved after finishing one place above their rivals in the Premier League however they may be fortunate considering the demands that Europa League football would have placed on their relatively small squad.

With a clash against Manchester United on the horizon and the fact that The Reds currently occupy 17th spot on the Premier League ladder, Brendan Rodgers has been forced to rest his first team for their opening European clash. Rodgers is hoping that Liverpool's youth team can reward him with a similar response that has been shown by winger Raheem Sterling and striker Adam Morgan. Morgan featured in both legs of the play-off round ties against Hearts and is the player highlighted for our enhanced wincast Headline offer. We have gone 6/1, originally 7/2, about the youngster scoring in a Liverpool win, whilst Young Boys hitman Raul Bobadilla of Argentina is also 6/1, originally 4/1, to find the net in a win for the Swiss outfit.

In spite of their name, Young Boys are in fact quite experienced in European football. They have featured in European competitions continually since 2003 including two seasons in the Champions League where they lost out to Tottenham over two legs in the play-off round in 2010-11.

2/1 for Young Boys on home turf could be where the sensible money goes in this clash especially when only being offered 6/10 on under 2.5 goals which appears to be the most likely outcome in this one. Liverpool's young boys are more than capable of a win in Switzerland however the 6/4 on offer just isn't big enough considering the test that they will exposed to.

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