Brendan Rodgers’ side looked home and dry against Young Boys although conceding that late equaliser against the Swiss side means they must get something from Thursday’s match in Italy, a task made slightly easier by the fact that Udinese are already out of the competition.
Newcastle United have no such worries and Alan Pardew can select a reserve team to fulfil their fixture obligations away to Bordeaux, while Tottenham have to ensure they avoid defeat at home to Panathinaikos to make sure of their place in the knockout stage of the competition.
Udinese v Liverpool 18.00
With Luis Suarez suspended for Sunday’s match at Upton Park, it made complete sense for Brendan Rodgers to include the Uruguayan in his squad for Thursday night’s match in Italy, with Liverpool strong favourites to win at the Stadio Friuli despite losing against Udinese in the reverse fixture.
The Italian side have no chance of progressing although this is a fixture that Liverpool probably need to win considering that Young Boys are at home to Anji Makhachkala and the Russian side are already booked into the last 32.
The best odds about an away win is even money (bet365 free £200 bets) despite the fact that Steven Gerrard isn’t part of the Reds squad, with Rodgers putting his faith in the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen. However, Lucas Leiva and Daniel Agger both also miss the trip.
Udinese are unlikely to field a strong team as they concentrate on improving domestic form which sees them sitting ninth in the Serie A table after an average start and Sunday’s 4-1 win against Cagliari was their first victory in eight games.
The home side can be backed at 3/1 (Stan James) to win the match although it should be Liverpool’s urgency that is greater for this contest and they will only have themselves to blame if they miss out after that late Young Boys equaliser.
Tottenham v Panathinaikos 20.05
Despite playing practically his strongest team in every Europa League match, Tottenham have found the group stage something of a slog, with Spurs drawing four of their five matches although a 3-1 win over Maribor means that the north London side simply need to avoid defeat on Thursday night to continue their European adventure.
Villas-Boas is clearly determined to treat this competition more seriously than predecessor Harry Redknapp who fielded youthful teams at every turn and it might yet be the case that Tottenham claim this piece of silverware as other sides focus more on their domestic form.
Spurs will be missing Gareth Bale for this match after the Welshman tweaked a hamstring at Craven Cottage last weekend, although Jermain Defoe is in seriously hot scoring form at the moment and the pocket-sized striker can be backed at 10/3 to score the first goal of this game, while Emmanuel Adebayor has to win the fans back over after that red card in the north London derby.
Interestingly, Panathinaikos need to win this match to reach the last 32 of the Europa League so they won’t be sitting back in this game at White Hart Lane and we could see the net bulging at both ends. The Greek side are a 10/1 chance to claim victory although their away form has been less than convincing in Europe.
Pana have lost 3-0 away to Maribor and Lazio, so you could be forgiven for dabbling on the correct score market and Blue Square offer 15/2 about Tottenham scoring three without reply although 3-1 looks a little tastier considering that both teams will be attacking.
Bordeaux v Newcastle 18.00
Alan Pardew has had no other option but to field youthful teams for the Magpies’ five Europa League matches, given that the Newcastle boss doesn’t have the biggest squad in the world, nor has he been fortunate with injuries this season.
Pardew will take another inexperienced squad to France this week to fulfil their final group game and it’s no surprise to see the visitors available at 4/1 (Blue Square free bets) to claim victory against a side that have also booked their place in the knockout stage of the competition.
Bordeaux are one of the better teams in France and actually boast an unbeaten record at Stade Chaban Delmas this season although there have been more draws than wins for FCGB.
Even so, the bookies expect them to cement top spot in the group with a victory and the best odds about a home win is 5/6 (BetVictor free bets), although this a match where both teams will be comfortable with a draw and it could pay to go that outcome at 11/4 instead.