That includes two Premier League clubs and the hard work appears to be done for both Liverpool and Newcastle United who achieved positive results on the road last week ahead of matches at Anfield and St James’ Park respectively.
Liverpool v Hearts 20:05
Liverpool are not terrible and they are not brilliant, despite being criticised and then praised following matches against West Brom and Manchester City. Brendan Rodgers has just begun his project at Anfield and will be using the Europa League as a chance for young players to gain valuable experience.
Last week’s performance at Tynecastle wasn’t pretty although a late goal for the visitors means there will be a relaxed atmosphere at Anfield on Thursday night and an early goal for Liverpool should see them safely through to the group stage.
The Reds are a best price 2/9 (Betfred free bets) to claim victory against their Edinburgh opponents although there’s always an element of danger backing a team that don’t need to win, especially as there’s the small matter of Arsenal visiting on Sunday.
Hearts have nothing to lose from this contest and a few thousand rowdy supporters will make the trip to Merseyside hoping to see the impossible achieved, with odds of 16/1 (bet365 bookmaker) that the visitors produce a massive shock which might only be enough to send the game into extra-time.
Perhaps Andy Carroll will start his last match for Liverpool on Thursday night with rumours centring on the England striker, while Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Jamie Carragher will all get a run out for the team.
Newcastle United v Atromitos 20:00
The Magpies face Aston Villa on Sunday and Alan Pardew will hope that an inexperienced team can finish the job off against Atromitos, with Newcastle having drawn 1-1 in Greece last week.
Papiss Cisse was about the only first-team player that started that particular match, although we can expect the Senegal striker and compatriot Demba Ba to be warming the bench ahead of Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa.
The Magpies are a best price 4/11 (BetVictor) to claim victory in front of their own supporters and it’s been a while since Newcastle were last playing in Europe so Pardew will want to avoid any slip-ups against a team that took the lead in the first leg before being pegged back.
Atromitos need to go for the away goal and are 10/1 to claim victory on Tyneside which will mean they take their place in the group stage of the Europa League.