Europa League latest news and free bets: Thursday 23 August

The Europa League group stage entrants will be known in a fortnight’s time, with Newcastle United and Liverpool both hoping to be part of the competition until December at the very least

Brendan Rodgers and his new team make the short journey north to Edinburgh to tackle a Hearts team who could cause a few problems for the Reds on Thursday night, while there will only be a handful of the Toon Army making the trip to Athens for their first leg tie.

Hearts v Liverpool 19:45
FC Gomel were easily swept aside in the last round, although Liverpool can expect a far sterner test of their credentials when they play Scottish Cup holders Hearts for a place in the Europa League qualifying round.

The Merseyside outfit had an auspicious start to their Premier League campaign when losing 3-0 at The Hawthorns on Saturday although it was a match that they dominated in the early exchanges until West Brom went into the lead.

Brendan Rodgers is likely to rotate his squad ahead of Sunday’s clash with Manchester City and BetVictor are offering a best price 4/7 about Liverpool, with Hearts looking to make amends for that calamitous 5-0 reverse at home to Tottenham in the same stage of the competition last season.

The Jambos have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season and Tynecastle will be packed for what is likely to be their biggest game of the season, although the Edinburgh side managed to toss away a two-goal lead against Inverness last weekend despite playing ten men for half the match.

Perhaps they were a little distracted ahead of this tie and the home team are 13/2 (Coral free bets) to claim a first leg victory that would put pressure on Liverpool ahead of next week’s second leg at Anfield.

We might expect Luis Suarez to be rested, although Andy Carroll could well lead the line and perhaps a first chance for supporters to watch Oussama Assaidi in action, while Raheem Sterling will also hope to get a run-out.

Atromitos Athinon v Newcastle 18:00
Atromitos F.C. are not a household name in Europe, although the Athens-based team had a great run to the Greek Cup final last season only to lose to AEK. However, it was enough to mean they get a chance to qualify for the Europa League group stage and will be fired up for the occasion.

The Peristeri Stadium will be packed for the visit of Newcastle and the Greek side are a best price 12/5 to claim a first leg to give themselves a fighting chance of going through at the expense of the Magpies.

Alan Pardew might make several changes for this match on the basis that the second leg at St James’ Park can help overturn any deficit, with odds of 11/8 that the visitors return back to England with a win.

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