The Europa League group stages get underway on Thursday with Chelsea seeking to transfer their excellent start domestically to the European stage.
Blues boss Maurizio Sarri takes his team to Greece to face PAOK Saloniki and even with the Italian planning wholesale changes, there should be no Greek tragedy for the west Londoners.
Chelsea to beat PAOK @ 10/11
Saturday’s victory over Cardiff made it five wins out of five in the Premier League for Chelsea under Sarri and their strong start to the season, coupled with winning the Europa League the last time they were in the competition, sees them installed as 6/1 favourites to lift the trophy.
The very long road to the final in Baku starts in Thessaloniki where the Blues will seek to maintain their unbeaten record against Greek opposition in Europe.
It is likely to be a much-changed Chelsea team that takes to the field to face a PAOK side who, like their opponents, have won all their matches domestically.
However, they are yet to face any of Greek football’s top clubs, and when it comes Europe, POAK were embarrassed 4-1 at home in the Champions League play-off round by Benfica.
The Greeks have won four of their last 10 Europa League matches and Chelsea’s superior quality, even with a second string out, makes them an attractive proposition.
Olympiakos to beat Real Betis @ 13/10
Betis return to European action after a four year absence this season but are tipped to stumble out of the gate against an Olympiakos team who are very strong on home soil.
The Karaiskakis Stadium is a tough place for any opposing team to visit with Greek champions AEK Athens the only side to leave with a win.
Olympiakos have scored in 10 consecutive home matches and are up against a Betis side who underwent an overhaul during the summer.
Los Verdiblancos have made a stuttering start, winning one of four matches in La Liga, and have yet to score an away goal this season.
RB Leipzig to win and BTTS @ 19/10
Thursday’s Matchday One sees the ‘historic’ first-ever Red Bull derby when Leipzig play host to Salzburg.
Salzburg were one of the stories of last season’s Europa League as they reached the semi-final stage but their success in the competition, coupled with a 12th Austrian title, saw several of their big names depart in the summer.
They still have a decent squad, especially in attack, scoring in 10 of 11 matches this season.
However, Lepizig are a step up in class and have scored three or more in five of their last six at home, making them good value to claim the Red Bull spoils.
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