Frankfurt out to better last season’s performance
Strasbourg and Eintracht Frankfurt will face off in what appears to be an interesting match-up as both sides seek to gain an advantage ahead of the second leg. Frankfurt were semi-finalists last season in the competition and they will be looking to better that this season. Strasbourg will come into this Europa League play-off feeling confident of getting something out of this first fixture. The two have been involved in high scoring fixtures in their Europa League qualifiers, both home and away, and another one looks likely here.
PSV to bank on home support
PSV have not been at their very best in the early stages of the new season but are the favourites to beat Apollon in the first leg of their Europa League qualifier. They struggled through the last round against Haugesund despite not conceding a single goal, as they went through 1-0 on aggregate. Apollon won home and away against Austria Wien to claim their place in the next round 5-2 on aggregate. The hosts are unbeaten in their last five matches and with home support behind them they should be able to win this one easily.
Celtic are set to host Swedish side AIK and they will want to make up for their Champions League exit with a good performance in the Europa League. Neil Lennon’s men have been very vulnerable in defence and you can expect that to be the focus for AIK. The visitors have scored in their last nine away games across all competitions, while they have seen both teams score in all of their six European ties this summer. We expect Celtic to concede given how easily the shipped four goals to Cluj but we don’t expect them to be quiet too since they possess some threat going forward.
Wolves were paired with Torino in the Europa League playoff round and they will begin the first leg away to Italy with the hopes of securing a good result. This is probably one of the most exciting matches as the two sides have been spectacular so far. Torino have Andrea Belotti and Simone Zaza working well together in attack, while Wolves have the threat to grab a vital away goal. We should be in for an end-to-end affair but also expect an evenly matched contest.
Espanyol to dominate
Espanyol have had a pretty impressive start to their season and they will be hoping to extend that when they host Zorya. The Spaniards looked dangerous in terms of both creativity and end-product, as they created 1.69 and 2.4 expected goals in their last matches in qualifying. Zorya did not look domineering in the final third against CSKA Moscow, but they did do a good job of both resisting and preventing their opponents from creating many chances. However, in Espanyol they will have a formidable opposition and every likelihood points to a great performance by the home side.