It’s the football Europa League semi-final first legs this week and BetVictor Brand Ambassador Michael Owen is here to provide his best bets ahead of the action.

Under 2.5 goals

Manchester United v Roma 1-0

Manchester United come into this after playing out a cagey 0-0 draw away to Leeds at the weekend. United are a patient side, especially on the road, and despite getting it right on their travels most of the time this season, they were made to settle for a point on Sunday.

Roma suffered a 3-2 defeat against Cagliari, not the ideal preparation going into a Europa League semi-final first leg.

That said, I think the Italians would settle for that kind of result here. They’ll be all too aware of how important it is to take a goal or two back to Italy.

For all I’ve been massively impressed by United on the road this season, they’ve made a marked improvement on home soil over the last month or so.

It’s now 10 home matches unbeaten for the Red Devils, and on a night where I think goals will be at a premium, I reckon it’ll be Ole Gunnar Solkjaer’s side that go into the second leg with a slight advantage. It’s 1-0 Manchester United for me.

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Villarreal to win

Villarreal v Arsenal 2-1

Despite a rather patchy domestic record, Villarreal have been excellent in this year’s Europa League. The Yellow Submarine have failed to win just one of their 12 matches and won all six of their games played at Estadio de la Ceramica.

It goes without saying that the tie carries some extra spice with Unai Emery in the home dugout. The Europa League veteran would love nothing more than to make it to the final at the expense of his former side.

For Arsenal, they have won just two of their last eight competitive outings, however, the Gunners’ are unbeaten in seven on the road.

I think this could be one of the more open semi-finals in Europe this week, but given the form of the home side, I reckon it will be the Yellow Submarine who go into the second leg with the advantage. It’s 2-1 Villarreal for me.

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Odds are correct at the time of posting

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