Stingy Atleti to prove Europa credentials

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Arsene Wenger

The finesse and class of the Champions League is replaced by the excitement of the Europa League on Thursday and there are four quarter-final first legs for us to get our teeth into.

Tournament favourites Atletico Madrid (13/10) welcome Sporting Lisbon in an all-Iberian clash and should have no problems in gaining an opening-leg advantage.

Both teams fell out of the Champions League but it is Los Colchoneros who look best placed to go all the way in this competition.

The Verde e Brancos are a handy outfit but lost at the weekend and, with Atleti winning their last eight at the Metropolitano to nil, the home victory to zero is the way to go at 10/13.

At the same time, Lazio welcome Salzburg to Rome in what both clubs will have seen as a good draw.

I Biancocelesti are a team back on the rise and Simone Inzaghi’s work over the last few years suggests he has a big future in the dug-out.

Salzburg also appear a team on the verge of something special, finally transferring the form that has seen them dominate at home onto the continental stage.

They defeated Borussia Dortmund in the last round and are well priced at 29/20 to qualify.

Thursday’s game is likely to be an even contest and the score draw at 33/10 seems a sensible outcome, as does the 10/13 for both teams to score.

The Austrian side’s sister club RB Leipzig are also in action as they welcome Marseille to eastern Germany.

Leipzig are newbies to all this but are a talented bunch, as are Marseille who outclassed Athletic Bilbao in the last-16.

Ralph Hasenhuttl is a shrewd coach, and I think home advantage will count and a Leipzig win but with both to score at 41/20 certainly appeals.

Finally to the only remaining English participants in this competition as Arsenal take on CSKA Moscow.

He may not accept it but Arsene Wenger should be targeting this competition and the Gunners are 11/4 to lift the trophy on May 16 in Lyon.

The Armeitsy are a solid team though and have some familiar faces that have been with them for what seems like forever.

It looks to be an intriguing encounter and Arsenal should be too good, but CSKA netted three times in their last Europa League clash and it could be a case of a home win and both to score at 19/10.

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