Soccer Picks & Tips: Benfica vs. Fenerbahce Europa League

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 6:41 PM GMT

Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013 6:41 PM GMT

Benfica go into the second leg of their Europa League tie at the disadvantage on the scoreboard to Fenerbahce but according to odds makers they are the odds-on-favorites to win outright and to advance into the final.


Will Benfica come through on their favorable soccer odds or can Fenerbahce put paid on that notion on Thursday in Lisbon. Join us as we breakdown this highly anticipated semi-final clash and deliver our take on where the best value can be found for our soccer picks.

Also take a look at our Chelsea vs. Basel Europa League: Soccer Picks & Tips

Benfica down but confident

The showdown between Benfica and Fenerbahce at Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in Lisbon on Thursday night is poised for a dramatic finish worthy of a Shakespearean plot, so the experts say.

Hanging on a goal, there is everything to play for yet in this tie and Benfica know it all too well as they gear up for the second leg.

In the first leg, the Portuguese paid the price of being a bit too tentative. Although they played a solid game, they didn’t take it to Fenerbahce the way they were expected to, save for a late rally in the game that was in response to Fenerbahce’s goal but that went begging.

That said a one-goal deficit isn’t a mountain to climb, especially when home advantage is on their side and that’s largely why Benfica go into this game firmly installed as the odds makers’ favorite at 4/9 to win outright at William Hill. That and their undefeated home record in domestic action, which includes 22 wins and 4 draws in 26 Primeira Liga games, adds further clout to those soccer odds.

Of course, Benfica can’t underestimate Fenerbahce as the Turkish side is in the driver’s seat and they will fancy their chances even if the sportsbooks don’t.

Fenerbahce ahead but far away from the final

Fenerbahce go into the second leg of their tie with Benfica up 1-0 but you wouldn’t know it to look at the odds. To all intents and purposes that advantage is being taken rather lightly in the markets. Priced at a whopping 7/1 to win outright at William Hill, one could almost assume the Turkish side’s one-goal advantage a moot point entirely.

Indeed, a goal advantage isn’t exactly a cushion to sit on, nor is a clash with Benfica going to be a wee pillow fight. On the contrary, Fenerbahce will have to work hard to defend that advantage and build on it in order to take this tie in Lisbon. That being said this doesn’t mean that they can’t do it. They can. And, here’s the best bit... wait for it... they just might.

Fenerbahce didn’t arrive into the semis by pure chance. They won their Group and then went on to beat Bate, Plzen and Lazio to reach the semis. They’ve worked hard to reach the final four and regardless of the quality of the opposition they might have faced (they can’t help the draw) they took opportunity as it came and when it came and as such deserve to be here. So who’s to say they can’t go further?

Fenerbahce played a smart game against Benfica. Bit of a cat and mouse game it was, patiently waiting out the Portuguese before finally pouncing in the final push and just when it had looked like it might end on a scoreless draw.

In fact, the post was a major player in the game and what kept Benfica in it and Fenerbahce down to just a goal advantage. Three great attempts rattled throughout the stadium in Istanbul and sent fans into groans of agony that reverberated around the world: Moussa Sow rattled one off the crossbar early in the first half and then Cristian rattled the post off a penalty late in the first half. After the break, Dirk Kuyt shook the posts once again before finally Egemen Korkmaz broke the deadlock and squeezed one past the keeper again (surprise, surprise) off the post.

[gameodds]35/227601/349-43/us[/gameodds]

Soccer Betting Verdict: Fenerbahce would like nothing better than to back up their maiden voyage into the semis with a first-ever appearance in a Europa League final but few are buying what they are selling. Odds makers have priced them out of the proceedings at a whopping price tag of 7/1 and, by and large, that price tag has scared most soccer bettors away. It’s a long shot bet.

Nevertheless, the value in this game is in the upset win. Everybody loves a good underdog story and this particular underdog has the potential to write a memorable one.

But it’s not just the appeal of the story that makes it possible. (Note the word “possible.” This is not a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.) A couple of things do that spring to mind.

Firstly, a revealing first leg: Benfica could pay the price of complacency. Simply put, they didn’t step up to the plate as most expected them to. They allowed the Turkish side to not only dictate proceedings but also take the win, thereby allowing them to believe. Belief is potent. An intangible that is hard to quantify and it could turn out to be the deciding factor.

The case for Benfica winning and advancing into the final rests for the most part on a solid home record built almost exclusively on domestic action. Last checked, this isn’t domestic action. It’s European club competition with European glory on the line and, thus, a whole different ball game. Fenerbahce already has the slight edge going into the second leg and if they believe anything is possible and that they can actually win then surely they’re not going to let a mere undefeated home record stand in their way.

Of course, this is but mere speculation, easier said than done. Yet, call it a nagging feeling but look out for Fenerbahce to make a statement.

Soccer Free Picks: Fenerbahce to win outright at 7/1 at William Hill.
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