It’s the final stage of qualifying for the Europa League and some famous names are hoping to make it into the Group Stage. It may not have the glitz or glamour of its sister competition, the Champions League, but it still constitutes some fine European action and now offers a route into the Champions League itself.
The clubs in the play-off round won’t harbour too many realistic hopes of winning the whole thing but the chance to get into the competition proper remains a major achievement.3
Austria Vienna have already ousted Albanian side Kukësi and Slovakian side Spartak Trnava but Norwegian champions Rosenborg represent a much tougher tie. The visitors were Champions League regulars up until 2008 and were only denied in the Champions League qualification rounds this year by APOEL Nicosia, who were quarter-finalists fairly recently.
Rosenborg are slight underdogs to win the game though at 2.80 with Vienna favourites at 2.40, suggesting this tie could swing either way.
West Ham face a tricky play-off against Astra Giurgiu from Romania. The Hammers were frustrated at having to play their first Premier League game on Monday evening at Chelsea, giving them limited time to travel across Europe for their first leg.
Astra, meanwhile, are four weeks into their league season so will be match sharp and smelling an upset. The Romanian side don’t possess any of the star names on show for West Ham, but in Denis Alibec they do have a goalscorer, having netted 19 times last season.
At 4.65 Astra have their work cut out to beat an opponent that operates in a different world financially. But the Hammers are at 1.70 and given the sizeable away trip and lack of match sharpness, the odds suggest this is a tricky match.
BATE Borisov are only in these play-offs having been the victims of a major shock in the Champions League third qualifying round against Irish side Dundalk. A shock 3-0 reverse in Ireland cost them another Champions League campaign which has fast become the norm over the last five years.
A famous victory over Roma last season remains a standout and a reminder of what they are capable of. Having said that, Astana too have some commendable Champions League pedigree from last season, drawing four of their six games, including holding eventual finalists Atletico Madrid to a stalemate.
So although both will be disappointed to not be locking horns in the Champions League rather than Europa League, both will recognise this as a tight game with the hosts at 2.35 and BATE a 3.30 shot.
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Odds 16.08.2016 – 16:00PM (no guarantee for the accuracy of the statistics and odds, Odds subject to change)