Best Bets For Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal, Roma vs Real Sociedad

The Europa League shrank to 16 teams in February after some dramatic eliminations in the play-off round. The EL group winners enter the KO competition in this round and were paired with the eight winners of the playoff round to reach the final 16 draw.

Arsenal will travel to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon and the Gunners could rotate some of their key starting XI to focus on the Premier League title race. Roma vs Real Sociedad will likely be a tactical and defensive battle currently lined up as a two-leg tossup. Union Berlin and Union Saint-Gilloise meet for the third time this season after two meetings in the group stage.

Manchester United lost by seven goals at Liverpool last weekend but the Red Devils are solid favorites in their match-up against Real Betis. With Thursday’s first legs here are my two best bets for the Europa League round of 16.

Europa League Odds & Tips

Sporting Lisbon vs Arsenal

Sporting Lisbon Odds +250
Arsenal Odds +110
Pull +240
over under 2.5 (+100 / -125)
day | Time Thursday | 12:45 p.m. ET
how to see Outstanding+
Odds via bet365. Stay up to date football odds here.

Mikel Arteta’s side are struggling with a minor injury crisis up front and it’s easy to see him rotating his team, with the Premier League having a much bigger focus at the moment. Gabriel Jesus is staying out, Eddie Nketiah is unlikely to return on Thursday and Leandro Trossard picked up an injury in Saturday’s dramatic comeback win over Bournemouth.

The injuries to Trossard, Nketiah and Jesus leave Arsenal without a real striker for this game and Gabriel Martinelli is the likely replacement for the centre-forward. He has decent shot counts for a wide forward but he hasn’t been in great form lately and isn’t an ideal center forward in an Arteta system. Arteta is also likely to join Thomas Partey, who has been struggling with a couple of injuries in the final month of the season.

Arsenal have elite core numbers when the entire starting XI is fit, but that’s far from the case in this away game against Sporting. Although Sporting have been inconsistent in Portugal this season, they have been quite solid in Europe. The Portuguese defeated Spurs at home and prevented Spurs from creating clear scoring chances. They were unlucky not to advance to the knockout stages as they had better numbers than Marseille and Eintracht Frankfurt in the group and slumped from a late lead on the final day.

Lisbon are comfortable without possession and Arsenal will lose goals defensively in transition without Partey on the pitch. This is also a big flat spot for Arsenal overall after the dramatic late win over Bournemouth. I bet Sporting +0.5 and spread the moneyline as a home outsider in the first leg in this motivational imbalance.

Dabbundo’s selection: Sporting Lisbon +0.5 (-140 or better) | SportingML (+250)

Roma vs Real Sociedad

Roma quotas +110
Social Quotas +275
Pull +210
over under 2.5 (+162/ -200)
day | Time Thursday | 12:45 p.m. ET
how to see Outstanding+
Odds via bet365. Stay up to date football odds here.

Two of Europe’s best defenders will face off in two legs when Real Sociedad take on Roma. Despite their style as a very defensive team that likes to play off the ball and encounter transition teams under José Mourinho, the market does not rely enough on the quality of their attack to create chances with this amount. Just because they play a defensive style doesn’t mean Roma aren’t also fourth in Serie A in xG and second in big scoring chances.

They also have positive regression in offense as they finished the entire season well below their xG total. With Roma having the first leg at home, they also need to be a bit more aggressive than Mourinho usually wants to be in a first leg of a European clash.

Real Sociedad have one of the most effective presses in Spain and they are good at forcing high turnovers and turning them into good scoring chances. Sociedad’s defensive pressing means they don’t concede a lot of shots, but they don’t have long possession with a lot of short passes either. La Real are mid-table in the league in terms of passing rate and second best when it comes to disrupting opposing passes.

Serie A as a whole is not really a high-pressing league, so Sociedad could effectively put a pressing on the Italian side and force mistakes from the back while Roma try to build possession.

The total bet went too low in this matchup. My predictions are 2.25 goals for this game and I’m betting the over 2 at -120 or better. I will also count both teams to +120 points because a goal will result in play at both ends of the field.

Dabbundo Tips: Over 2 (-115), Both Teams to Score – Yes (+120)

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