Europa League Picks: Lyon vs. Viktoria Plzen

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:58 PM GMT

Tuesday, Mar. 11, 2014 12:58 PM GMT

Viktoria Plzen masterminded one of the biggest upsets in UEFA Europa League when they dumped Shakhtar Donetsk in the R32. Now they have their sights set on Olympique Lyonnais in the R16. Join us as we preview this clash and serve up soccer picks for your consideration.

Viktoria Plzen quintessential underdogs

Although Viktoria Plzen enter the first leg of their clash with Olympique Lyon at +300 soccer oddswhich represents a surprisingly respectable disadvantage given the gap in quality and depth of their respective domestic leagues – they are the quintessential underdogs in the competition proper on +4000 future odds to win the title. Within the latter market that gap in quality and depth is represented wholeheartedly, and not just in the context of their R16 tie (which few expect they will transcend) but also the rest of the field which boasts big names such as Juventus, Napoli and Tottenham, to name a few.

That said Viktoria Plzen punched above their weight class to dismiss Shakhtar Donetsk in the R32. After settling on a 1-1 draw at home to the Ukrainian side, that was demoted from Champions League on a third place finish in Group A behind Man U and Bayer Leverkusen, Plzen had all to do to win the tie on the away. Tale told the Czechs turned in the match of their club’s campaign in the knockout stages to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate in Kiev with backup goalie Petr Bolek rising to the occasion, making one show stopping save after the other, as they completed the upset to the surprise of Europa League bettors.

What’s more, Viktoria Plzen qualified for Champions League at the start of the season – a commendable feat by all accounts. And while they were thoroughly outclassed in Group D by holders Bayern Munich and Premier League heavyweights Manchester City, they still managed to clinch third place to their credit. Their best accounts against the big clubs were a 1-0 defeat to Bayern and a 4-2 defeat to Man City, the latter of which saw them keep pace with the Citizens at the Eithad until the last 12 minutes when they allowed two unanswered goals. 

Lyon at the advantage in R16

Lyon open their R16 tie with home advantage adding weight to their favourable -110 soccer odds to win outright at Bet365. But they can’t take anything for granted given how well Plzen performed against Shakhtar Donetsk, particularly on the road when there was everything to play for yet.

The French side are notorious for defending, advancing through the group stage of this competition with a 3-3-0 mark highlighted by scoring just six goals and conceding just three. They continued on their stingy vein of form in the R32 with a 1-0 victory on aggregate over Chornomorets Odesa comprised of a scoreless draw in the first leg and a 1-0 victory in Lyon in the reverse leg.

Good as defence is, still you get the sense that Lyon have to find a scoring flair sooner rather than later. They can’t continue relying on defence alone when the competition is only going to get tighter and the attacking threats against them greater. The Czechs might not leap off the page as such an imminent threat but appearances can be deceiving.

Lyon vs. Plzen match betting tips: Betting trends are falling in line with Lyon for the most part because they are better known, the French League more closely followed worldwide than the Czech League is for instance. Of course, home advantage and the edge in quality and depth over their Eastern European counterparts add further weight to their fancied -110 odds to win outright.

So on paper everything about this matchup suggests it’s a home banker, Lyon the smart soccer pick to win outright. Viktoria Plzen however are dangerous floaters. They took demotion from Champions League into Europa League as a positive clearly, a second opportunity for European glory. They showed spirit and fight when they took out Shakhtar Donetsk and you should expect no less from them when they descend on Lyon.

Of course, winning this match would be an upset, but it isn’t so unthinkable given the respectable +300 soccer odds that are being offered – they could have been much larger underdogs, priced outside of the realm of probability for the victory. That they aren’t is telling enough to prompt us to consider the upset as our recommended soccer pick or even the draw at +240 soccer odds, the latter of which let’s face it would be the more widely acceptable result amongst soccer bettors but also would still be a golden nugget of hope for the Czechs to continue their conquering ways in the reverse leg in Plzen.

Soccer Free Picks: Draw +240

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