Gent v Molde
Both teams suffered very disappointing results last week. Molde lost 2-3 at home to Swedish neighbours Djurgården, whilst Gent could only draw 1-1 vs 10 man Shamrock Rovers. If Molde had won, they would already be qualified for the next round, and if Gent had won their fixture easily, they could have gotten themselves into a position where a draw would suit them here. As things stand, Gent must beat Molde to finish second and the visitors only need a point to prevail. The reverse fixture between these two sides in Norway resulted in a 0-0 draw, although Molde did dominate proceedings. There were over 25 shots in the game but somehow the game ended with no goals. Molde ousted Gent 1.16 to 0.81 on xG for that match and were frustrated by a defence which came to basically get a draw.
The situation is now different though and Gent simply must take more risks, which should in theory open up chances for Molde on the counter-attack. Molde warmed up for this match with a comprehensive 4-1 victory away to Viking in the Eliteserien. They have now won 15 consecutive league matches but their European form has been much patchier.
Gent drew 1-1 vs Leuven in the Belgian top-flight at the weekend. It was a pulsating match statistically and Gent were ousted 1.76 vs 1.82 on xG. For over 2.5 goal backers that game was one of incredible frustration. Gent are in 6th position domestically and have had a mixed season with 7 wins out of 15 league games. Their only victory in this Conference League group stage has been a 3-0 success vs Irish side Shamrock Rovers.
This has been a strange group because nobody would have expected Djurgården to claim four wins vs Molde & Gent respectively. Molde will not know how on earth they let such a good chance slip last week. They were 2-0 up and cruising but a shocking Djurgården comeback saw them end the game with zero points. Manager credited the Swedish side for their 2nd half performance and admitted his own team needed to ‘do more’. Molde have not always made life easy for themselves in Europe this season and now must avoid defeat to progress to the next round. They are unlikely to just come here and play for a draw though. They have some excellent weapons in the final third and fast striker David Datro Fofana could especially be a massive threat for Molde.
Gent outshot Shamrock Rovers 1.79 to 0.41 last week but could only draw 1-1. That is now two consecutive matches in which they have dramatically underachieved their xG totals. There are clearly some goals in this team though and I am expecting an attacking approach from Gent. This should be an open game of football because as soon as there is a goal, the other team has to react. Even if it stays 0-0 then at some stage Gent have to take risks. Both teams to score can be backed at 1.60 and that looks a good price to me. I do not trust either team to keep a clean sheet and it might be useful to have the 1-1 draw on our side because that is a result which Molde would accept.
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