Slovacko v Cologne
Thursday’s meeting between Cologne and Slovacko is two teams needing a win to keep their European dream alive. With just four points separating Partizan (1st) and Slovacko (4th), it’s still all to play for with Steffen Baumgart’s Cologne on level points with the Czech Republic team. Losing both of their games against Partizan, and therefore giving them the upper hand, it’s imperative that the Bundesliga side pick up wins against Slovacko and Nice in their remaining two fixtures. Whilst difficult, Baumgart hasn’t written off his side just yet and has welcomed the challenge.
Cologne are facing a Slovacko side that have won just three games in their last 13 games across all competitions. At the weekend, Slovacko overturned a 1-0 deficit to beat Teplice using their strongest squad. They have the advantage of playing at home but whilst Cologne will be travelling, the Bundesliga side will be eager to find their groove again having won just one of their last five games. They come into this game having shipped five at Mainz but did play most of the game with 10 men after Luca Kilian was sent off. The games are coming thick and fast for the German side and with several players missing through injury, Dejan Ljubicic being a key one, but they’ll still fight to qualify for the knockout stages.
Nether team are in an excellent position form wise. Cologne have shown this season that they can beat the best teams (3-2 vs Borussia Dortmund), but it’s important for them to get the first goal on Thursday. Too often we’ve seen their confidence drop when going 1-0 or 2-0 down. Against a Slovacko side that are 10th and with just four league wins this season, Cologne really should be winning this with the superior squad that they possess. Steffen Tigges has finally found his scoring boots with three goals in his last four league games, Baumgart will be hoping he can transfer that form to the Conference League. Cologne should be winning this one but will be wary having already conceded twice against Slovacko
Molde v Djurgården
Here we have a battle of Scandinavia as Molde will look to gain revenge on their earlier loss in Stockholm. This clash is reminiscent of the now defunct ‘Royal League’ which was set up between 2004-07 between teams in the Scandinavian region. Teams from this area do not meet each other very often and when this matchup occurred a few weeks ago it was dubbed a fixture between potential champions. Molde have since secured the Eliteserien title in Norway and are on a phenomenal domestic run of results.
Djurgården meanwhile, have faded somewhat but are still just about in title contention and should at least finish second. Point being, this is obviously a high class fixture between two strong sides. Djurgården won the reverse fixture 3-2 in Stockholm, scoring a late winner and have since followed that up with two surprise wins vs Belgian side Gent. A draw here would be enough to secure their spot in the next phase of the Conference League. Djurgården have been a pleasant surprise in Europe this year and with a home match vs Shamrock Rovers still to come, they will rightfully be targeting top spot which brings with it an automatic bye into the last 16 of the competition.
Molde have absolutely stormed the Eliteserien this year and have now won 14 straight league games domestically. They are unbeaten in 22 consecutive fixtures in Norway and since last facing Djurgården have improved their Conference League standing by obtaining consecutive wins vs Shamrock Rovers. It is highly likely that a final game showdown vs Gent will happen, irrespective of what happens here. If Molde win this match by a two goal margin then it would keep alive their hopes of finishing top of the group. They are the favourites to prevail at 1.75, which looks a fair enough price.
Molde are definitely the better of the two teams and probably would have won, or at least drawn in Stockholm were it not for the red card awarded to striker David Datro Fofana in the second half. Even then, they looked the more likely to win despite being a man down.
Now with home advantage I think there is a very good chance that they gain revenge on their Swedish counterparts. Djurgården have shown some frailties domestically recently and quite simply I just don’t think they are as good as Molde. They can take plenty of inspiration from their excellent European results, but with such a favourable last future against Shamrock Rovers at home I think they might feel less of a hunger and desire compared to Molde here. This is going to be a home win in my opinion and a price of 1.75 is perfectly acceptable on which to back Erling Moe’s men.
Shamrock Rovers v Gent
There was high tension at AA Gent in recent weeks, as results have been disappointing for the Buffaloes this season. Especially after the painful 4-2 defeat at Djurgardens, there was plenty of issues surrounding Gent. President Ivan De Witte publicly expressed his dissatisfaction, to which coach Vanhaezebrouck hit back a few days later. After the victory this weekend against Seraing, both the trainer and the president met and settled their dispute.
Nevertheless, the Buffaloes will have to win against Shamrock to keep their chances of European qualification alive. The Irish became champions on Monday without playing. Although players and staff promised not to celebrate, practice was canceled Tuesday anyway, despite two previous days off. So we suspect the Rovers did celebrate a bit. They are eliminated anyway, so they won’t take any chances with players who are slightly injured as well.
AA Gent did not travel to Dublin, but rather to Shannon Airport, 200 kilometers away, near Limerick. Dublin, like Schiphol in Amsterdam, has been struggling with staff shortages for quite some time. Because there are regularly long queues, charter flights are taken elsewhere and no opponent has yet been able to land in Dublin itself. As a result, they will spend two and a half hours on the bus in addition to the plane travel.
Other than the latter, Gent has no excuses not to win this match. The pace could be slow and we could see a boring first half, but AA Gent should be able to live up to their role as favorites. Striker Depoitre has gained confidence with his winning goal and will now also be important in breaking through Shamrock’s defense. Someone who can also be expected to kick off is young Salah, who put in a strong performance against Seraing with his quick dribbles.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
Back the Four & Five Star Selections as a Treble on Betfair ⬇️
*Bet link only appears when accessing from mobile.
Haven’t got a Betfair account? You’re in luck…
Sign up to Betfair and get a full refund if your first bet loses. Grab an account through the offer below and place £20 on the 4/1 Rest of Europe UEFA Europa Conference League Best Bets Treble. Here are the two possible outcomes: