Notes for New Readers
The Europa League has many of the same features as a Champions League day, however, the trader hype is generally not as big. We do have two big EPL teams left in the contest and they should get interest.
Whilst the Europa is not quite as exciting as the CL, we are still talking about treble days with limited games and they can be a good dividend source. And if it looks like Arsenal or Chelsea might win it later on, there is media there too.
Europa League involvement can give a player more shelf life in the season, but you have to be a bit more careful with them than a strong CL contender in case others choose to cash out ahead of the season end.
That said, if you find a player at the right price, or can find a player with Europa involvement that also fits the shift towards Summer, there are still good picks out there.
Personally, if I feel like a punt, I prefer to go for the dark horses rather than the obvious. If the trade does not work out, the ones who have been lightly bought in anticipation will not drop as much. And, at cheaper prices, that dividend pay off is sweeter.
Otherwise, another good strategy is to buy the obvious very early and sell to those buying late in the build up.
As with the CL, we can loosen up our requirements when looking for performance players here since they will, on average, be able to win with 150-175’s rather than 200’s.
Again, there is no competing league games on April 18th however note we have 4 games in play rather than just 2 for the Champions League.
Europa League QF 2nd Leg
18th April - Napoli v Arsenal
1st leg Score: Arsenal 2 – 0 Napoli
Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: Napoli 4.5 Arsenal 1.25
SPI Win Probability: Napoli 43% Draw 26% Arsenal 31%
In form: Aubameyang, Lacazette, Ramsey
Notable: Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Xhaka
In form: Mertens, Koulibaly, Verdi
Notable: Milik, Callejon, Insigne, Zielinski, Ruiz
Market and Player Assessment
I’d say Arsenal’s passage looks assured but my god have they been poor away in the Europa. The betting odds like Arsenal’s chances but the algorithm expects Napoli to win the game and given Arsenal’s away record so do I.
Could be a fair market reaction in favour of the victor. As we get to the real business end the Europa league may start picking up more media for Arsenal and Chelsea if they remain involved.
Aubameyang and Lacazette are the big goal threats for Arsenal obviously and are both are in decent form. Lacazette looks much more likely to start. Neither are amazing performance players but with fewer matches on the night they have a good chance. Lacazette looks good for a soft match day.
Ramsey has been improving and would be my best Arsenal pick. He also has a media angle with his exit not far away.
Other shouts are Iwobi and Mkhitaryan who could easily challenge with a goal. Both have the current Expected Goals to give about 1 goal in 5 games so it’s a long shot but could happen. Xhaka cannot be discounted if he gets one of his rare screamers.
Ozil is a cut price media magnet and his stats are good recently. Could start but team news conflicts. Not a bad pick if he does play.
Really spoilt for choice at Napoli and the difficulty is picking from so many quality options.
Insigne is not in the best form is always capable of a big points tally and at home he could do some damage if he scores. Underachieved this season but he is real quality especially at the price.
Verdi is also a great player who has had an injury ravaged season. Had his minutes managed lately but he will be one I look at for pre-season for sure. If he starts, he could do very well.
Milik and Mertens have strong goal threat. Milik may win on a soft day like this where he just needs goals but he is a poor performance player in general. Mertens is a far superior performance player and has decent threat in his last 5.
Callejon is probably a bit underated and is not a bad dividend punt at his cut price.
Ruiz and Zielinski are always capable of a big score if they can put the ball in the net. But they have been quite frustrating players who have not finished enough chances. Could do well with just a high baseline alone on a day like this though.
And Koulibaly can challenge on a limited matches day because of his excellent passing. He will be remembered for goal heroics last time out and he is capable of scoring regularly for a defender but we cannot expect it too often.
18th April - Eintracht v Benfica
1st Leg Score: Benfica 4 – 2 Eintracht
Betting Odds: Eintracht 3.2 Benfica 1.37
SPI Win Probability: Eintracht 43% Draw 25% Benfica 32%
In form: Rafa Silva?, Felix, Pizzi
Notable: Seferovic, Grimaldo
In form: Jovic
Notable: Haller (injured?) Kostic, Rebic
Market and Player Assessment
Big score from Benfica in the first leg and they look good to progress with a two goal advantage. Should not be huge market moves unless Eintracht turn it over.
As per the 1st leg review, this is always going to be the Felix show and boy did he turn up with a hat-trick. When you score a hat-trick you are pretty unlucky not to get the match winner so he was denied a first win. Did him no harm on the market though.
If Benfica do go out you could see Felix sales however as long as the transfer links hold up he should be ok.
Defender Grimaldo is also attracting attention for a big Summer transfer. He’s a good performance player and he should see plenty of interest if he does well.
Rafa Silva looks an in form option but I cannot find him on FI despite trying all of his many names. He should be added, looks decent.
Pizzi is the budget performance pick. Looks great with good threat and he has won on a Europa league night recently.
Felix looks good at the moment and could yet rocket again if he scores or wins. But you have to wonder how much more people will be willing to pay at this point, the price is huge.
Seferovic is also decent for threat but his baselines will be low.
Eintracht’s main man is Jovic and he looks in very strong form. He looks by far the most likely for Eintracht.
Haller is working back from injury and may not figure.
Rebic looks in strong goal scoring form however his passes are almost as likely to go to the opponent as his team mate. It’s really bad and it will often drag his scores down.
Kostic is the same and whether they have a deliberate game plan to confuse their opponents by giving away the ball or they are just really bad at passing, it matters for FI scoring.
However, if they ever have a good chance of winning it will be on a day like this where a goal alone could swing it.
18th April - Chelsea vs Slavia Prague
1st Leg Score: Slavia 0 – 1 Chelsea
Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: Slavia 13 Chelsea 1.06
SPI Win Probability: Slavia 2% Draw 16% Chelsea 82%
In form: None
In form: Giroud, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Alonso
Notable: Hazard, Higuain,
Market and Player Assessment
With the away goal secured this should be an walkover in theory.
These are banana skins though that still need watching just in case the unthinkable happens. It can really crash prices if there is a shock.
It isn’t likely though. Both the betting and the algorithm see this as a free win for Chelsea and it’s hard to disagree. It is still a slim margin though and if Slavia grab a goal people could start sweating.
Giroud, Barkley and Hudson-Odoi all seem expected to start in the predicted lineups.
Giroud could fill his boots here. In the away leg he was actually very quiet but form previous to that was superb in the Europa and I would fancy him to do well.
This could be a Barkley friendly game. Quiet in the away leg but at home where he should see more of the ball he can build a nice baseline and he has the threat to make them count.
Hudson-Odoi is looking fairly good recently if you discount the last awful game vs Liverpool. When he has done well it has been against weak opposition and we have that again here in theory.
He feels quite delicate to me at the moment. A good performance could see confidence restored but a second bad game could see more exits. I suspect he will do well in this one as he can get at a soft side.
Obviously, you can’t count out the usual suspects like Hazard or Higuain if playing but personally I am expecting rotation as that has been Sarri’s way previously.
I noted Alonso‘s improvement in the Scouting and the last Europa preview and he duly delivered a 240 score and the win. For a defender, he has superb threat in the last 5 and he clearly needs to be on the Explosion Imminent column. I’ll add him now.
Sorry Slavia fans but I’ve got nothing much to pick out here!
18th April - Valencia v Villareal
1st Leg Score: Villareal 1 – 3 Valencia
Betting Odds TO QUALIFY: Valencia 1.02 Villareal 23
SPI Win Probability: Valencia 58% Draw 23% Villreal 19%
In form: Chukwueze
Notable: Fornals, Cazorla
In form: Guedes,
Notable: Parejo, Rodrigo Moreno,
Market and Player Assessment
Looks a dead cert for Valencia to get through according to the betting and the alogrithm and it’s hard to imagine it being any different.
It’s not totally without Villareal interest though because it is an audition for Chukwueze and possibly Fornals to show quality.
Guedes after two goals in the first leg has signalled a return to form. He has been inconsistent over the season but he is a known talent and if he did well again he would get attention.
Parejo will always be of interest and in the home leg it is his time to shine. He could win with a good baseline alone although he is generally reliant on those penalties. He has had two recently and missed them though.
Rodrigo Moreno is usually a threat. Generally a poor performance player but he is capable of 2 or 3 goals on his day which could win it.
For Villareal Chukwueze is looking good as noted in the Scouting. If he does well he should get plenty of market attention.
As could Fornals who many have high hopes for. He is in a bit of goal drought but is getting some chances and he has the baselines to make them count.