Swansea and Spurs looking forward to European spring campaigns
Swansea’s Europa League campaign has turned into a bit of a struggle after such promising beginnings, but they should still edge through to the knock-out stages after Thursday evening’s final group games.
The Welsh outfit need a point at St Gallen to make it through to the final 32 and even if they don’t get it, they will be okay unless group leaders Valencia don’t lose at home to Kuban, who would then qualify instead.
Swansea looked so good when stuffing Valencia away 3-0 on Matchday One, but they have been pretty ordinary since; first scraping home 1-0 against St Gallen and then drawing twice before losing in the home return fixture with the (admittedly much improved) Spanish.
St Gallen have won their last two domestic fixtures to lie a close fourth behind Basel in the Swiss Super League and we already know from Basel’s two winning performances against Chelsea in the Champions League that teams from a country which has qualified for the World Cup as one of the top eight seeds are not to be taken lightly.
They gave Swansea men a really hard time of it at the Liberty Stadium, missing a penalty and hitting a post late on, and though their subsequent Europa League form has been poor, they do clearly have it in them to beat decent sides on their day.
Swansea, a bit fortunate to draw at home with Hull last Monday and perhaps without their star striker Michu again, look vulnerable and certainly Coral’s 12/5 St Gallen is more tempting than a win for the visitors (11/10) or the draw (12/5).
In which case, Swansea will be looking for a favour from Valencia (5/6) and hoping they don’t take things too easily against a battling Kuban (3/1). So although the overall odds seem very much in the Swans’ favour, it wouldn’t take all that much for it to suddenly turn pear-shaped.
Spurs are already home and hosed in top place in their group and will be looking at their final tie against troubled Russian side Anzhi principally as an opportunity to further boost their renewed confidence following their November dip.
Jermain Defoe, joint leading scorer in the Europa League so far with five goals, is 8/11 to get on the scoresheet again (3/1 first or last), while this might also be a good time for the misfiring Roberto Soldado (4/5 and 100/30) to fill his boots.
It should be straightforward for Spurs. Coral go 6/1 it finishes 3-0, but it might be worth chancing a bigger win still: it’s 10/1 4-0 and 20/1 5-0.
Wigan still have slim hopes of making it through, but they need to beat NK Maribor away and hope that Zulte Waregem lose at home to group winners Rubin Kazan. It has been an exciting first European adventure for the gutsy FA Cup winners, but this looks like the end of the road.