Lyon plays first Europa League match in 2014

A couple of years ago, Lyon was playing against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League and even though they were the underdogs, they were not to be trifled with. Much has changed and with some of their best players being traded to other teams, the French side is now struggling to regain its position among the most competitive European squads.4football

The top priority right now is to reach the group stage of the Europa League, a pretty simple objective, given the fact that they will be playing the qualifier against Mlada Boleslav. The team from the Czech Republic is bound to exercise some pressure in front of their own fans, because winning on the road is very unlikely. Even so, they start as underdogs and as a result will try to avoid conceding a goal, while scoring on counterattacks.

Bookmakers and pundits alike are reluctant to trust Mlada Boleslav tonight, even though they have home pitch advantage. An interesting analysis of the upcoming match for those who plan to wager can be found at The hosts have the advantage of already playing an official game in the domestic championship and winning, even though the narrow margin triumph is not something to shout for.

Manager Jarolim is not a big fan of offensive football and the best proof is that in the previous games played by his team, he rarely used more than two strikers. Duris and Skala appeared to be his favorites upfront and they’re going to feature in the starting formation, hoping to tip the scale in Mlada’s favor. There is a gap between the midfield and backline, which means that players from one sector will need to support the others, which might leave the strikers a bit stranded.

Both of them are still looking for their first goal in an official match after subpar performances in the friendly games played by the Czech team in July. Lyon will be trying to score at least once on the road, because by doing so, they will deny their opponents the chance to barricade themselves in the second leg. This is how they got eliminated last season and some lessons need to be learned, which explains why the visitors will use a 4-3-3 starting formation.

This served them well in the previous games played against top European teams, but not only strikers are a serious threat for Mlada Boleslav. Lyon has one of the best midfields of all the teams playing in the Europa League qualifiers, with Gourcoff being one of their most prolific scorers. This is the first time that the two teams meet, so there is no head to head record for punters who value these sorts of statistics.

Placing a wager on this fixture is fairly easy, because even though only a few hours separate us from kickoff, the odds revolve around even value. Betting live after the match has started is another option, but with Lyon expected to storm the visitors from the very first minute, it is not worth the risk of them scoring first, because the odds would plummet as a result.