By News Team
29th September 2021
The Europa League returns to our screens with 16 fixtures for Matchday 2, with the British sides all keen on hitting their stride this Thursday.
We preview the key matches below.
Legia Warsaw v Leicester City
Things don’t get any easier for Leicester. After a stuttering start to the season, Brendan Rogers’ side now have a tricky test in Poland. The Foxes have not won since beating Wolves in their first Premier League match. And they threw away a 2-0 lead with just 20 minutes to go at home to Napoli to draw 2-2 in their Europa League opener.
In contrast, Legia top the group after a dramatic 90th minute winner away to Spartak Moscow. Their league form has been hit and miss with four defeats from their opening seven games to leave them fourth bottom in their league. However, they have won six and drawn two of their nine games in Europe so far this term.
While it is early days to call this game a must-win for Leicester it is certainly a must-not-lose one. With a double header against Spartak Moscow to come plus a tough trip to Naples, Rogers’ side need a result and they are 4/6 to return with three points.
Legia, who are 4/1 to win, have hardly been flush with goals in the league, scoring just nine in seven games.
Celtic v Bayer Leverkusen
Ange Postecoglu’s Celtic kicked off their Europa League campaign with a moral-sapping loss away to Real Betis. The Bhoys were two-nil up in that but ended up losing 4-3. And now they host group favourites and in-form Bundesliga heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen to Celtic Park.
Leverkusen beat Mainz in a close encounter at the weekend but inspired by the brilliant Moussa Diaby, have largely been scoring for fun so far this season. They have won four of their six Bundesliga games hitting 16 goals so Celtic’s porous defence could be in for a rough night.
With their raucous fans Celtic have enjoyed some famous nights on home turf – but this could be another chastening experience with well-organised Leverkusen 10/11 to win. Celtic are 14/5 to shock the Germans but the draw at 11/4 is probably their best hope.
West Ham v Rapid Vienna
West Ham United have started the season in great form, spearheaded by muscleman Michail Antonio up front. The big hitman has been in brilliant form to top the Premier League charts with five goals and three assists in five games. And their opening Europa League game was a surprisingly straightforward 2-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb.
They will surely build on that at home to Rapid Vienna on Thursday before a potentially group-deciding double header with Belgian side Genk.
The Hammers have lost just once this season, 2-1 at home to Manchester United when Mark Noble had his 94th minute penalty saved. So, things are bubbling nicely and they should have too much class Rapid Vienna who were smashed at home by Sturm Graz at the weekend, and have won just two games from nine in the Austrian League.
Not surprisingly West Ham are 2/7 to win, with Rapid 10/1 to pull off a shock with the draw at 7/2. Antonio is 4/5 to score at any time but Manuel Lanzini makes more appeal at 12/5 to grab a goal in the 90 minutes.