The 1st legs of the 2020-21 UEFA Europa League Round of 16 stage will take place this week. In a glamour tie that history suggests belongs in the Champions League, Manchester United host AC Milan. Elsewhere, Arsenal travel to Olympiacos and Tottenham Hotspur entertain Dinamo Zagreb. Also, newly crowned Scottish champions Rangers take on Slavia Prague in the Czech capital, hoping that their players are not too hungover to continue their remarkable form this term.
Ajax v Young Boys
17:55, BT Sport, Johan Cruyff Arena
Ajax welcome Young Boys to the Johan Cruyff Arena on Thursday. The Dutch giants are currently fourth favourites to win the competition behind the three Premier League clubs. Can they kick off the Round of 16 with a home win?
Ajax have been superb on home soil in 2021, winning six and drawing one of seven. Erik ten Hag’s men beat Lille in Amsterdam in the previous round of the Europa League. Ajax should be too strong for the Swiss side on Thursday, so take a punt on the hosts to win -1 at 8/5.
Dynamo Kiev v Villarreal
17:55, BT Sport, NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium
Mircea Lucescu’s Dynamo Kiev and Unai Emery’s Villarreal clash at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium on Thursday night. The Spanish side are the favourites to progress through to the last eight and, of course, boss Emery knows a thing or two about winning this competition, having claimed it three times with Sevilla and taken Arsenal to the final .
Dynamo have been tough to beat lately, unbeaten since a 3-0 UEFA Champions League loss to Juventus on 2nd December. Villarreal are the favourites, but we fancy the Ukrainian Premier League outfit to get the win on home soil. The hosts are priced at 14/5 and at those odds they are definitely the value pick here against the side seventh in La Liga.
Manchester United v AC Milan
17:55, BT Sport, Old Trafford
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United and Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan lock horns in a heavyweight Europa League fixture at Old Trafford on Thursday. Can the Red Devils, who are the tournament favourites, get a vital victory on home turf? If they lose this one then Milan would become one of the favourites for outright glory but with the Rossonerri only having won two of their last seven in all competitions we have to fancy the hosts here.
United have been extremely tough to beat in recent months, and they head into this European tie having beaten rivals Manchester City in the derby last weekend. That massive win may be too little too late in terms of a serious title challenge but it will give them a real boost ahead of this huge clash. Milan have made an indifferent start to 2021, and we can see United picking up a comfortable home win here. You can get 6/4 for the hosts to be winning at half time and full time.
Slavia Prague v Rangers
17:55, BT Sport, Sinobo Stadium
Rangers will be riding on the crest of a wave after winning the Scottish Premiership title from fierce rivals Celtic last week. Can the Gers keep the momentum ticking with a positive result against Slavia Prague at the Sinobo Stadium on Thursday? They have been flying in Europe as well as domestically and Steven Gerrard will have gone to great lengths to stress that their season is far from over. They celebrated their title in fine style but they will be 100% up for this game as well, of that we have no doubt.
Rangers have had a truly exceptional season, winning a staggering 38 of 45 league and cup games. They concede very few goals – just nine in 32 games in the SPL. That makes them a really tough side to beat and Gerrard’s boys will fancy their chances in this one. The away win is nicely priced at 21/10.
Granada v Molde
20:00, BT Sport, Nuevo Los Carmenes
Granada and Molde go head-to-head in the 1st leg of their Round of 16 Europa League tie at Nuevo Los Carmenes in Spain on Thursday. The Spanish side are the clear favourites to get the better of the Norwegians over two legs.
Granada may be the favourites, but Diego Martinez’s men have been in poor form of late, losing four of the last six. Nevertheless, they should squeeze past Molde on home turf this Thursday. Take a punt on the hosts to win by one at 13/5.
Olympiacos v Arsenal
20:00, BT Sport, Karaiskakis Stadium
Olympiacos and Arsenal meet again at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Thursday. The Greek side beat the Gunners in the Europa League last season, so Mikel Arteta’s men will be out for revenge in this one. Last year’s result was a major upset and given the gulf in class between these teams we expect the north Londoners to turn things round here.
Arsenal won 1-0 in the Karaiskakis Stadium in the 1st leg of their Round of 32 tie last season, but a 2-1 defeat on home soil saw Olympiacos go through. The Gunners will not want to make the same mistake again, and we fancy the Premier League team to win to nil in Greece (12/5).
Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk
20:00, BT Sport, Stadio Olimpico
Paulo Fonseca’s Roma entertain Luis Castro’s Shakhtar Donetsk at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome this Thursday. The home team are fancied to win on the night and this should be a decent game for the neutrals.
Giallorossi are in decent nick, winning five of their last seven across all competitions. In the previous round of the Europa League, Roma eased past Braga. The Italian side are strong in the Olimpico, and there is good value in the home win -1 at 6/4.
Tottenham Hotspur v Dinamo Zagreb
20:00, BT Sport, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham will be looking for a comfortable home win when they welcome Zoran Mamic’s Dinamo Zagreb to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in midweek. At the time of writing, you can get 9/2 for Spurs to win this season’s Europa League. Given they have a fully fit Harry Kane, a Gareth Bale increasingly looking back to his best and a manager with multiple European titles, it is easy to see why they are among the tournament favourites.
After losing six of eight in all competitions, Tottenham are back on track with four consecutive league and cup victories. If they can carry on this run they will be peaking at the perfect time and this campaign could yet end on a real high. We fancy Spurs to make it five in a row with another easy European home win on Thursday. Have a punt on the Londoners to win both halves at 9/4.