Get my tips for the Europa League last 32 ties involving the British clubs.
Game to finish in a draw
Club Bruges v Manchester United
A busy week for Manchester United who picked up a win at Stamford Bridge before travelling to Belgium for the 1st leg of their Europa League tie.
Club Bruges are nine points clear in the Belgian First Division and did get a 2-2 draw in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid in the Champions League earlier in the season. The hosts will provide a stern test for United, but the Belgian outfit are without a win in their last 10 games against Premier League opposition and I think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will get a hard-earned draw in Bruges.
Both teams to score
FC Copenhagen v Celtic
The champions of Denmark and Scotland go head-to-head in the Danish capital and it promises to be a cracking tie.
The Bhoys have lost all three previous ties at this stage of the Europa League, but they have returned from their winter break in terrific form and look full of goals at present. I think the Danes will edge the 1st leg on home soil but expect Neil Lennon’s side to be right in the tie for the second leg back at Parkhead next week.
Game to finish 1-1
Olympiakos v Arsenal
Olympiakos picked up a home point against Spurs in the group stages of the Champions League earlier in the season and I feel they will have to settle for another draw when north London rivals Arsenal are the visitors to Piraeus on Thursday.
A 3-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League before the turn of the year ended the Greek side’s 10-match unbeaten home record in Europe, so this will be a serious test for last season’s beaten finalists. The Gunners made serene progress in the Europa League group stages, but a draw would be a decent result against the current league leaders of the Greek Super League.
Game to finish a scoring draw
Rangers v Sporting Braga
If Old Firm rivals Celtic have been in top form since the return from the winter break, the same cannot be said of Rangers, even though Steven Gerrard’s side have won three of their last four games in all competitions.
Braga won all three of their away games in the group stages of the competition, including at Molineux, but they are 16 points behind second-placed Porto in the Primeira Liga table and Rangers picked up four points against that Portuguese outfit in the group stages.
This is the first time Rangers have been in the knockout stages of a European competition for nine years while Braga are unbeaten in Europe in their last thirteen games. I can’t split the sides at Ibrox, and this is another tie which I believe will still be in the balance come the second leg.
Wolves to win to nil
Wolves v Espanyol
Two sides making their Europa League debuts, but I would be disappointed if Wolves did not take a lead back to Barcelona, given Espanyol currently prop up the La Liga table – although they did pick up a good point from a 2-2 draw in Seville on Sunday.
Wolves have drawn their last couple of Premier League games 0-0 – at Old Trafford and at home to Leicester City on Friday – but I do not expect them to draw another Molineux blank on Thursday.