Although most of our televisions will be tuned to The Masters come Thursday, the Europa League quarterfinals will be kicking off across the pond.
Headlining the final-eight slate will undoubtedly be Red Bull Leipzig vs. Atalanta BC, but I’m choosing to look elsewhere for my best bets.
So in order to hopefully help boost that bankroll for The Masters and MLB Opening Day, here are my two best bets across the four Europa League quarterfinal matches.
Best Bet #1 – FC Barcelona Goal-Line (-1) vs. EintrachtFrankfurt (+130), DraftKings Sportsbook
Since crashing out of the Champions League in the group stage, Barcelona has absolutely dominated Europa League play.
In four continental fixtures, manager Xavi’s squad has produced at least 1.3 expected goals in all four and has simultaneously allowed under 1.0 expected goal in three of those fixtures. Plus, it arrives at Thursday’s visit to Frankfurt on a 13-match unbeaten run (W10-D3) and has created at least one expected goal in all 13 matches.
On the flip-side, its defense has conceded more than one expected goal only three times and is due for some positive defensive regression (10 goals against on 8.8 expected in those 13 matches). While its attack has overperformed its underlying metrics – 33 goals on 27.2 expected – its attack is creating almost 0.3 xG/90 more than its season-long average.
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Now, that potent Barcelona attack receives an Eintracht Frankfurt defense that has conceded the sixth-most expected goals of the final eight teams in the competition. Further, it has struggled defensively this season against top Bundesliga sides + top Europa League teams. In 12 fixtures against sides ranked 2-7 in last year’s Bundesliga table and Europa League knockout round participants this year, Frankfurt is conceding 1.67 xG/90 minutes, per fbref.com.
Additionally, it hasn’t kept a single one of those 12 sides under one expected goal. With Barcelona’s defense playing as well as it is, expect an easy victory for the visitors tomorrow.
Best Bet #2 – West Ham United/Lyon Both Teams to Score “Yes” (-135), BetMGM
Although this prop failed to cash in West Ham’s two round of 16 legs against Sevilla, the underlying metrics tell a different story.
Both legs featured at least one expected goal from each side, with West Ham underperforming on its underlying metrics drastically (two goals on 4.1 expected). Plus, the Hammers have proven a very reliable BTTS side at home in the Premier League. The “yes” side has cashed in four of its last six domestic fixtures and 12 of 16 overall.
Further, of the eight remaining Europa League sides, West Ham has notched the third-most expected goals. As for Lyon, it has produced the second-most xG in the competition and has cashed the “yes” side of BTTS in three of its last four continental matches.
I’m fairly certain West Ham will be able to score here as Lyon has conceded the fifth-most expected road goals in Ligue 1 and is due for a sizable amount of negative defensive regression (19 road goals against on 25 road xG against).
But, it’s also creating the third-most road expected goals, so Lyon should be able to catch out a West Ham defense that has conceded at least one expected goal in six straight fixtures.
Add in that West Ham’s defense hasn’t kept a deserved clean sheet since early February and I believe this price should be closer to -155.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism