Europa League Betting: Benfica vs. AZ Alkmaar

Steven Suarez

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 5:21 PM GMT

Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 5:21 PM GMT

As we get ready for the second leg of this Europa League quarter-final, Benfica holds the clear advantage to advance on to the last four. Check out our soccer picks and preview for the return leg in Portugal inside.

Odds Overview
The soccer betting odds are clear as can be: the Eagles are overwhelming favorites at as high as -250 to win outright in the second leg and subsequently book a spot in the semi-finals. We can find Alkmaar starting at +700 and going up to +825, while a draw is listed at roughly +350.

 
Benfica
The Eagles kept chugging along in the Portuguese Liga, disbanding Rio Ave 4-0 in an easy home victory on Monday. It was their ninth straight outright win domestically. 

Rodrigo opened the scoring and was soon followed by Nicolas Gaitan, with Oscar Cardozo adding a brace (both from the penalty spot) in the second half. It was a comprehensively dominant performance from star to finish for the likely league champions.

With the win, Benfica is seven points clear of second-place Sporting Lisbon with only four fixtures remaining. They're well on their way.

The Eagles' attacking prowess has been on full display throughout the season and Rio Ave found out first-hand. Will Alkmaar suffer a similar fate on Thursday? It's hard to see anything else happening, considering Benfica has scored more goals (52) than any other team in Portugal and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Multiple players have been inflicting the damage going forward. Lima, Rodrigo and Oscar Cardozo have combined for 29 league goals this term, while Ezequiel Garay and Lazar Markovic have both topped scored at least five times each as well.

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AZ Alkmaar
After losing 1-0 in the first leg to Benfica, Alkmaar followed that up by drawing Roda JC 2-2 away from home in the Eredivisie.

Goals from Markus Henriksen and Aron Johannsson had the visitors looking good, but Roda got an equalizer in the 70th minute and that would be the last goal of the match. Considering Roda is dead last in the league, it wasn't the best of results for Alkmaar.

In terms of league position, the club finds themselves in seventh place, which would give them a spot in the Europa League playoffs come next season. They're nine points back of the fourth place, which is currently occupied by Vitesse Arnhem.

Alkmaar, ahead of Thursday's trip to Portugal, has really struggled away from home, posting three wins, three draws and 10 losses in 16 matches. They have 17 goals for and 30 against in that time.

Still, they'll be hoping Johannsson can provide some heroics like he has so many times already this term. He's scored a team-best 17 goals in 30 domestic appearances and has added two goals in the Europa League campaign so far.

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Europa League Pick
We expect Alkmaar to make life difficult on the hosts in the return leg, but ultimately we believe Benfica will emerge victorious both in the second leg and on aggregate.

The Eagles have been incredibly tough to contend with at home, having still not lost (11 wins, two draws) in 13 matches on their own field. They've scored 27 goals and allowed only five in that span of matches.

Alkmaar has enjoyed a fine run in Europe and few expected them to make it this far. Unfortunately they run into one of the top teams left in the competition and we believe Benfica will prove their superiority. Side with the Eagles as your preferred soccer pick.

Pick: Benfica 3 AZ Alkmaar 1

Aggregate: Benfica 4 AZ Alkmaar 1

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