UEFA Europa League Semifinals Preview

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

By Jonathan Willis
BETCRIS Europa League Semifinals Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid

The Europa League Semifinals may not get the same publicity as the Champions League, but it is still a major trophy. All four of the teams still involved in the tournament would love to claim it at this point, not just for the silverware, but for the guaranteed spot in the group stage of next year’s Champions League.

Atletico Madrid is the only club that already has a spot there next year locked up, while Red Bull Salzburg just has a spot in the second qualifying round guaranteed. Olympique Marseille is still in the hunt for a place in the Champions League, and this will be Arsenal’s only chance after a disappointing campaign.

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Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid

Date and Time: April 26, 2018, 3:05 p.m. ET

Location: Emirates Stadium

US Television Coverage: FS1

Betting Line: Arsenal PK -125, O/U 2 and 2.5

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Winning the Europa League would be a fitting end to Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal. The embattled manager has announced that he will be stepping away from the club at the end of the year after more than two decades at the helm. This is his last opportunity to win a major trophy, and he would love to give the Gunners one more before he rides off into the sunset.

The Gunners had the misfortune of drawing favorites Atletico Madrid in the semifinal, but the Spanish club will not be at full strength. Right back Juanfran will not be available for either leg of this tie, hurting their stability at the back. Additionally, it sounds like it’s unlikely that forward Diego Costa will play either.

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However, Arsenal has some major injuries of its own to deal with. Midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been declared out for this tie by Wenger and Mesut Ozil’s status is up in the air because of the flu. Not having either one of their two big playmakers would certainly hurt Arsenal’s chances of picking up a good result.

Arsenal will have to find a way to beat one of the best defenses in Europe. Atletico Madrid simply do not allow goals, giving up just three in their last six Europa League matches. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak is one of the best in the world and will look to have another standout performance.

Olympique Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg

Date and Time: April 26, 2018, 3:05 p.m. ET

Location: Stade Velodrome

US Television Coverage: FS2

Betting Line: Marseille -1, O/U 3

These teams met in the Europa League group stage with Salzburg getting the better of Marseille. Salzburg was able to hold Marseille to a 0-0 draw in the Stade Velodrome and then knocked off the French club 1-0 at home to finish atop their group.

Even after those results, Marseille are sizeable favorites in the first leg of this tie. However, they may have some trouble in the back against Salzburg. Their best defender, Hiroki Sakai, suffered a knee injury in the club’s win over Lille this weekend and will be sidelined for the next few weeks.

This has the potential to be a high-scoring affair. Salzburg has a boatload of young talent, highlighted by forward Moanes Dabour. Dabour has found the back of the net 26 times this season and has looked great against international foes. Marseille has some offensive talent of their own in Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin.

Europa League Semifinals Free Picks

There shouldn’t be many scoring opportunities when Arsenal faces Atletico. Without some key playmakers, both sides will see their offensive efforts hamstrung. That makes the under a solid play.

In the other match, I think these teams are more evenly matched than the oddsmakers believe, so I will go with RB Salzburg on the goal line.

Europa League Semifinals Picks: Take the under in Atletico-Arsenal and Salzburg on the goal line

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