Dutch delight in Spain

Real Sociedad v PSV
Thursday 09 December, 17:45
Live on BT Sport

It’s been a magnificent start to the season in general for Real Sociedad, but some of the lustre has faded, and the weekend’s 2-0 home defeat at the hands of runaway leaders Real Madrid has surely put paid to any fanciful talk of the league trophy heading to San Sebastian. La Real have hit a wall, having won just two of their last eight matches, and having lost three of the last four.

If we discount the 4-0 win at lower-league Panaderia Pulido in the Copa del Rey, the goals have dried up for Imanol Alguacil’s side. They have scored just three goals in their last five La Liga games, and they haven’t scored at all in the last three. Star striker Alexander Isak has scored in just one of his last nine appearances for club and country.

La Real have to win this to book a playoff spot, while PSV just need to avoid defeat, so this is a straight shootout to see who qualifies behind group winners Monaco. PSV have won 4-1 at Sturm Graz and drawn 0-0 at Monaco in their other away games, and in general Roger Schmidt’s men are in excellent form. They are unbeaten in seven matches since they were smashed 5-0 by Ajax, and attacking players like Carlos Vinicius and Cody Gakpo are on fine form.

Real Sociedad are trading at 1.84/5 to win this game, and I think that’s too short based on current form. I’ll lay the visitors, getting the draw and the away win on our side.

Bedlam in Belgium

Genk v Rapid Vienna
Thursday 09 December, 20:00
Live on BT Sport

The addition of the Conference League to the UEFA family has added some jeopardy to the end of the group stage that simply wouldn’t have previously existed. Last season, Rapid Vienna would be bottom of the group and heading out of Europe, but this season a win at Genk would see them leapfrog the Belgians and book a Conference League playoff.

On that basis, with Genk needing a win to have any chance of staying in the Europa League, this could be a wild game. Genk have just played out a 3-2 defeat and a 3-3 draw against Belgian champions Club Brugge in league and cup, and 12 of their last 18 matches have featured three goals or more. Rapid’s last three away games in all competitions have seen them lose 3-1, 4-1 and draw 2-2. Rapid have conceded 14 goals across their last seven games.

This could be a lot of fun, and I’ll back Over 3.5 Goals here at 2.3411/8.

Danes to do their bit

Ludogorets v Midtjylland
Thursday 09 December, 20:00
Live on BT Sport

It’s been a tough campaign for Bulgarian champions Ludogorets, who have taken just a point from their six games, and are out of Europe entirely. Once again, the Opnume are dominating domestically (they are nine points clear at the top of the table), but they often find that the leap in quality to continental competition is too big.

Danish league leaders Midtjylland looked dead and buried halfway through the group stage, but a 3-2 home win against Braga and a 1-0 success at Crvena Zvezda mean that another victory here will send them through to at least the playoff round. They have won six of their last nine matches in all competitions, and on the road they have won three of the last five.

Midtjylland are 1.715/7 favourites here, and they have the quality and motivation to take all three points. I’ll happily boost that price to 2.186/5 by backing them -1.0 on the Asian Handicap. If the Danes win by two goals or more, we get an odds-against winner, and if it’s only a one-goal win, our stake is returned.

Polish playoff could be fun

Legia Warsaw v Spartak Moscow
Thursday 09 December, 17:45
Live on BT Sport

This group, which also includes Napoli and Leicester, has been one of the most fascinating. Anyone can still qualify for the knockout phase, and anyone can still be eliminated. Legia have completely lost their momentum after winning their opening two games, because they have lost the last three. They have conceded ten goals across those three defeats.

Spartak are in the unusual position that they could have beaten Napoli home and away, but still not have qualified. The Moscow giants have only won two of their last seven games, and they haven’t managed a clean sheet for more than two months.

I fancy goals here, as both teams have to go for the win, and neither team is defending well. Both teams have found the net in Spartak’s last ten games, while 11 of Legia’s last 17 games have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land. I’ll go for Over 2.5 Goals here at 1.9110/11.

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