Linfield V Qarabag Betting Tips: Linfield +1.75AH – 22 August 2019

Linfield go in search of memorable outcome

Europa League Tips

Linfield V Qarabag

Thursday 22nd August 2019 – 19:45 Kick-Off
UEFA Europa League
Pick: Linfield +1.75 Asian Handicap
Odds: 3/5
Bookmaker: Bet365

1 X 2
33/5 21/5 8/25

* (All betting odds displayed were correct as of 21st August 2019 at 00:40)

Preview: Linfield made history when they overcame Sutjeska in the previous round, becoming the first team from Northern Ireland to reach the play-off round in the Europa League. Can they now go one better and qualify for the competition proper? We will have a better idea by the end of this first leg, with Azerbaijan champions Qarabag the visitors to Windsor Park in Belfast.

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Linfield Preview

At the time of Linfield’s elimination in the first round of the Champions League back in July, there cannot have been too many who genuinely believed the team would embark on a groundbreaking run in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. Yet all that separates them now from a place in the group stages of this very competition is two more games – the problem is, their opponents happen to be rather good.

Some supporters might bemoan their luck when the draw was made, as drawing the champions of Azerbaijan, a team ranked 70th in the latest UEFA Coefficients and one good enough to reach the Champions League proper as recently as two years ago, was certainly among the worst case scenarios. Not that there can be too many complaints really, as Linfield had received a generous route to this stage.

Since losing 6-0 on aggregate to Rosenborg in the Champions League first round, the Northern Ireland title holders have faced sides from the Faroe Islands and Montenegro. Teams from leagues that ranked 53rd and 50th according to a recent UEFA Coefficient. There are only 55 leagues on the list. Which isn’t to diminish the success of their victories over HB Torshavn (3-2 on aggregate) and Sutjeska (5-3) entirely, but some perspective is in order taking into account the quality of opposition that awaits them next.

It almost goes without saying that this fixture in Northern Ireland is critical to any remote chance Linfield have of producing an upset. Their record at home in Europe this season reads two wins and a defeat. HB Torshavn and Sutjeska were both beaten, 1-0 and 3-2 respectively, but Rosenborg encountered few problems recording a routine 2-0 victory.

Under 2.5 Goals
4/5

Bet365

 

Qarabag Preview

For a team that has grown accustomed to testing themselves against some of the finest sides the continent has to offer, this draw does have an inevitable feel to it. Bookmakers are evidently of the same opinion. Qarabag, who are the reigning champions of Azerbaijan and have topped their league in each of the past six seasons, are not only overwhelming favourites to progress (1/20 with Betfair) but are also very short odds to assert their superiority right from the outset in Northern Ireland.

Were they to qualify from this tie, Qarabag would have reached the group stage of either the Champions League or Europa League for the sixth season running. That alone highlights the calibre of side we are dealing with. The only real surprise is that they are not competing in the other play-off; they were seemingly well-placed to do so when recording a 2-1 win away to APOEL, only to fall to a surprise 2-0 defeat at home, condemning them to this competition instead.

One possible chink in the armour could stem from their mediocre record on the road. That win over APOEL in Cyprus was their first away win in Europe this season – they had earlier drawn in Albania and Ireland with Partizani and Dundalk, respectively – and just their second in the past two seasons (W2 D4 L1) when focusing exclusively on qualifying rounds. They were beaten 1-0 in Moldova by Sheriff Tiraspol at this same stage last season.

Linfield V Qarabag Key Facts:

  • Linfield are competing in the Europa League Play-Offs for the first time, becoming the first team from NI to do so.
  • Qarabag are attempting to reach the group stage of a European competition for the sixth season running.
  • Previous Round: Linfield eliminated Sutjeska 5-3 on aggregate, winning 3-2 at home. Qarabag were beaten 3-1 on aggregate by APOEL in the Champions League third round but did win 2-1 away.

 

Betting Summary

This has been an historic run for Linfield. Never before had they reached the third round of either the Champions League or Europa League, yet here they are preparing for a play-off encounter in the latter. Home wins over HB Torshavn and Sutjeska are positives, although both were achieved against modest opposition. A 2-0 defeat earlier in the campaign to Rosenborg is a negative, however, as was a 4-2 loss in a recent league fixture at home to Coleraine.

A team good enough to feature in a group stage for the past five seasons in a row. Qarabag are strong favourites, and rightly so, but their record away from home in Europe is certainly not the best: between this season and the last, the team from Azerbaijan have won only twice from seven round trips (W2 D4 L1) in qualifying rounds. Six of those, meanwhile, produced two goals or fewer in the match.

So the statistics offer up some hope for the underdogs here. For all that Qarabag deserve plenty of respect for reaching so many group stages in recent campaigns, this remains a side prone to average performances when asked to travel. Furthermore, a propensity for producing dull affairs low on goals would also suggest the scoreline might be close even if the visitors do justify their short odds by winning.


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