“Everything is put to the test – the successful team’s record is extended”

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After the perfect hit on Sunday’s European tips, it is with a bounce in the doja that Thursday’s ditto will be tackled. 3 million in jackpot bodes well and with fighters from the Premier League, Europa League and Europa Conference League there is plenty of candy on the coupon. Note that the adventure spans two days. Join the heat via the link below!

The derby! – 1. Chelsea – Tottenham

It’s building up to the derby in The Big Smoke where Chelsea face Tottenham at Stamford Bridge. The Blues put in a much improved performance as they followed up a horrendous 0-5 against Arsenal by coming from 0-2 down to 2-2 against Aston Villa. Looking at the match picture, the blue-clad should have taken all the points. Tottenham in turn went on the pump against Arsenal with 2-3.

Having said that, the performance in The North London Derby was one that added flavor to the closing rounds. Arsenal really had the margins with them as they scored on basically everything that was created while Tottenham were grinned right in the face by Mrs Fortuna. Van de Ven’s equalizer at 1-1 was ruled out for a fine offside and Postecoglou’s men never came closer than 2-3.

If the lilac-whites continue to perform the same fine football until the end of the season, I think they will take over fourth place at Aston Villa’s expense, but the visitors will at the same time have a day’s shorter rest than Chelsea before the derby. Speaking of improved performances, The Blues’ performance against Aston Villa was one that was not seen against Arsenal. Villa’s 2-0 half-time lead was downright unfair, but Chelsea showed unusual morale in the second act.

Led by Madueke, Pochettino’s men clawed their way back to 2-2 and in the end it was just a dubious decision between one or three points. Just as for Tottenham, the same applies to the home team. If the level of performance is maintained in the closing stages, it is not inconceivable that Chelsea sail past West Ham, Newcastle and Manchester United in the battle for sixth place.

If both teams are to succeed in their respective tasks, it will most likely require three points this Thursday. It is thus set for a naval battle at Stamford Bridge and it is true that no expense is spared when these dominions collide. I expect an undulating match picture with tough duels and a lot of goals. By virtue of their home ground, Chelsea gets my trust, but on the cooperative system, the runner-up could very well ride along.

Notable interruptions

Levi Colwill, Chelsea (toe injury)

Enzo Fernández, Chelsea (groin injury)

Roméo Lavia, Chelsea (thigh injury)

Wesley Fofana, Chelsea (knee injury)

Destiny Udogie, Tottenham (thigh injury)

Manor Solomon, Tottenham (knee injury)

Not sure about games

Robert Sánchez, Chelsea (match training)

Christopher Nkunku, Chelsea (match training)

Raheem Sterling, Chelsea (back injury)

Carney Chukwuemeka, Chelsea (knee injury)

Malo Gusto, Chelsea (knee injury)

Ben Chilwell, Chelsea (knee injury)

Reece James, Chelsea (hamstring injury)

Lesley Ugochukwu, Chelsea (hamstring injury)

Oliver Skipp, Tottenham (struck)

Semis! – 2. Roma – Leverkusen

During Thursday, it is time to connect enough screens that the plugs go in the electrical cabinet. The London derby in the Premier League and the four semi-finals from the Europa League as well as the Europa Conference League all compete to steal the attention of just two eyes. That being said, my main focus will be on the duel taking place at the Olimpico.

Roma face Bayer Leverkusen in what will be a repeat of the semi-final that took place in the same tournament almost exactly a year ago. Then and there, José Mourinho hailed his old mentor Xabi Alonso as a future great coach and then shut down the Spaniard’s Leverkusen without mercy. Roma progressed 1-0 on aggregate over two meetings where it felt like the Giallorossi would have kept a clean sheet if the doubleheader had gone on for 40 hours.

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Fast forward a year, Mourinho has had to hand over the reins to Daniele De Rossi. A decision that everyone with sympathies in the red parts of Rome hardly complains about. The home mason has continued on Mourinho’s cynical track where three-pointers are piled high, even though it doesn’t always look so convincing in terms of play. It’s a trait that weighs heavily in the continental game.

If Roma have undergone changes that have led to the same mental strength, however, Leverkusen have developed at the speed of light. Last year, the Germans were traded for around 3.30 times the money in the corresponding meeting, which was the first of two semi-finals. This year the conditions are the same, but instead the Kusarna are down to just over 2.10 in odds. That says a lot about Alonso’s job.

The visitors are still unbeaten in all competitions this season and have scored a breathtaking 21(!) goals after the match ticked over 86 minutes. It’s a different kind of mental strength than the one Roma possess and I think Alonso with adepts will succeed in his quest for revenge from last year. The runner-up is closest to hand in the eternal city and on this analysis I nail Leverkusen.

Notable interruptions

Zeki Celik, Roma (suspended)

Not sure about games

Chris Smalling, Roma (thigh injury)

Borja Iglesias, Leverkusen (arm injury)

Adam Hlozek, Leverkusen (ankle injury)

The favorite! – 5. Aston Villa – Olympiakos

Before the season, I predicted Aston Villa to finish top 6 in the Premier League at 3.00 times the sauce. It can already be picked up even though there are still a couple of rounds left. Unai Emery has spun on the wave he himself started when he took over last year and the Spaniard’s renaissance is admirable after the tough time at Arsenal. With hindsight, I might even have pinched Aston Vill to make the top 4.

As the recognized cup coach that he is, Emery has also won the hearts of supporters following success in the Europa Conference League. Aston Villa are in the semi-finals after defeating Lille in the quarter-finals and looking at the odds market, The Villans are clear favorites for the title ahead of Fiorentina, Club Brugge and Olympiakos. On Thursday, the latter travel to Birmingham to wrestle with the favourite.

Here, with that said, I think that Villa can have bigger problems than both the odds and the streak show. In terms of performance, the red and blue have not convinced me since quite a while back. The 2-0 victory against Arsenal is really the only clean performance since February. The injury to Kamara is a huge ape for the midfield and Villa are also close to unable to play in the lead.

Luton, Brentford, Lille and Chelsea have all picked up – or come stumbling close to picking up – points-defeating deficits against Emery’s side. In defensive play set up, the English have problems and when even Tielemans seems to be missing in the middle, I don’t want to kid Olympiakos away anyway. The Greeks are making their first ever European semi-final – Villa’s first in over 40 years – and have a certain Mendilibar as their base.

The Spaniard has, among other things, guided Sevilla to a Europa League title and since he took over Olympiakos, the Greeks have won twelve of the last 17 competitive matches. The squad is also packed with top players, with El Kaabi, Podence and Fortounis among others standing out. Skilled Masouras is missing due to suspension, but Villa are also missing tie Martínez for the same reason. I see the cross as a necessary companion for the trusted one.

Notable interruptions

Emiliano Martínez, Aston Villa (suspended)

Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa (knee injury)

Emiliano Buendía, Aston Villa (knee injury)

Boubacar Kamara, Aston Villa (knee injury)

Alex Moreno, Aston Villa (calf injury)

Jacob Ramsey, Aston Villa (toe injury)

Georgios Masouras, Olympiakos (suspended)

Andreas Ntoi, Olympiakos (suspended)

Not sure about games

Nicoló Zaniolo, Aston Villa (muscle injury)

Youri Tielemans, Aston Villa (muscle injury)

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