Europa League Matchday Six: British Clubs Bound For Knockout Rounds5 min read
The Europa League has reached the final group game but there is still much for the British clubs to play for.
Wolves v Besiktas
Wolves are guaranteed a place in the last 32, but they can still win the group if they beat Besiktas and group leaders Braga do not win in Bratislava.
Wolves have been sensational, after a slow start to their domestic campaign, so far this season and are unbeaten in all competitions since mid-September. I expect Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to keep all three points.
Tip: Wolves to win
Manchester United v AZ Alkmaar
United are already through to the knock-out stages but they need at least a point against Alkmaar to be guaranteed top-spot in the group.
After, arguably, their best performance and result of the season at the Etihad on Saturday, confidence will be high at Old Trafford.
The Dutch side have won their last couple of league games without conceding, but I think United will build on their recent wins against Spurs and City and take all three points.
Tip: United -1
Standard Liege v Arsenal
Arsenal need a draw in Belgium to be guaranteed a place in the last 32. It is possible, however, that Liege, Arsenal and Eintracht Frankfurt will all finish with 10 points and six points in the respective head-to-heads between the three teams.
A point or more for the Gunners will, of course, put the calculators away, but Standard are unbeaten in their last 11 European home games (W7 D4) and this will be a severe test for Freddie Ljundberg’s side.
It is one, however, I expect they will pass with the hosts needing a convincing win on home soil having lost 4-0 at the Emirates earlier in the campaign.
Tip: Arsenal to win
CFR Cluj v Celtic
Celtic are already through to the last 32 as group winners and will be joined by the Romanians if the hosts avoid defeat on Thursday.
The Bhoys rode their luck against Rangers in the League Cup Final on Sunday at Hampden Park and that was a very energy-sapping game for Neil Lennon’s side. This will be Celtic’s second visit to Transylvania this season having drew 1-1 with Cluj in the Champions League qualifiers back in August.
Celtic have won their last four games in the competition, but they have little to play for and I think that the hosts will get the result they need to join the Hoops in the knock-out stages.
Tip: Cluj to win
Rangers v Young Boys
A draw will be enough to see Rangers qualify but Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will top the group with a win, and I expect them to bounce back from their Hampden Park loss to Celtic on Sunday.
That defeat did show just how far The Gers have come this season as they outplayed their Old Firm rivals for large periods of the game, and I believe they will do enough to take all three points at what is sure to be a special night at Ibrox.
Tip: Rangers to win