Europa League Soccer Picks: Napoli vs. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk

Lee Phelps

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 2:44 PM GMT

Tuesday, May. 5, 2015 2:44 PM GMT

It's Italy versus Ukraine in the first leg of the Europa League semi finals and William Hill's Lee Phelps is looking at the stats and odds for his free betting pick.

Mr Europe Rafa Benitez will have his eyes firmly set on lifting the Europa League title and qualifying for the Champions League and his team have pulled the easiest draw to get to the semi-final. Dnipro are their opponents and are the sole representative outside Germany, Spain and Italy in the last four of either major European tournament.

 

Napoli
Two-times Europa League winners Napoli are the top scorers in this season's competition and the favorite for this matchup according to the soccer betting odds; with 25 goals since the start of the group stage, an average of just over two goals per game. Dnipro have scored just 11 goals in 12 games since the start of the group stage, averaging under a goal per game.

Add to the scoring stats, the fact Napoli have had the most attempts on target since the start of the group stage (88) and have hit the woodwork nine times in this season's competition.

The main man up front is Gonzalo Higuaín. He is the top scorer left in the competition with seven goals – Everton FC's Romelu Lukaku and former FC Salzburg forward Alan scored eight before their clubs were eliminated.

Seldom do I look at the coach when weighing up bets, but Rafael Benítez has a golden touch in Europe. His trophy haul is impressive across the continent. He won two Spanish titles and the 2003/04 UEFA Cup with Valencia, the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC and the 2012/13 Europa League with Chelsea FC. The Spaniard lifted the Coppa Italia in his first Napoli campaign. Benítez could match Giovanni Trapattoni in becoming only the second coach to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League for a third time.

Add to that the fact that Benítez has not been beaten in his last 24 home games as a coach in UEFA competition (W20 D4); he never lost a home match with Inter, Chelsea or Napoli, with his most recent home defeat a 2-1 reverse against Fiorentina with Liverpool in the Champions League group stage on 9 December 2009.

Shop for the best Europa League Odds offered by top sportsbooks

Dnipro
Dnipro have committed more fouls (199) and received more yellow cards (43) than any other club in this season's UEFA Europa League, and any suspensions would be a big blow to a squad already shorn of Ukrainian international Roman Zozulya through injury. Having won nothing of note in recent times, Dnipro also lack pedigree.

Dnipro's Yevhen Konoplyanka remains the most fouled player in the competition. He has been impeded 41 times since the start of the group stage, 15 more than any other player.

Dnipro started 2014/15 in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, meaning they have had the longest journey (16 games) to make it to the semi-finals. Napoli started off in the UEFA Champions League play-offs and it has taken them 14 games to get to the last four.

Goalkeeper Denys Boyko recently made his Ukraine debut and is full of confidence after registering clean sheets in four of Dnipro's six knockout games. What's more, Napoli may have their eye on Konoplyanka – who has the unusual honour of being this tournament's most fouled player – which could leave extra space for free-kick specialist Ruslan Rotan to exploit.

 

Soccer picks
As well as Dnipro have done, when I compare the Ukrainian top flight with Serie A, I see a big difference and with that Benitez know-how, I can’t make an argument for Dnipro outscoring Napoli, although I wouldn’t be totally surprised if they got on the score sheet.

I see a professional job by Napoli here, with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win so back them with your soccer picks.

Free soccer pick: Napoli win and under 2.5 goals 3.2 (11/5)

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2840723, "sportsbooksIds":[43], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

comment here