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Weblog: The football punter

Atlas and Airport Watch are key to Europa profit

It's Europa League time again, a coupon with team names on it that look like a jumble of letters, like I've got my fingers stuck in the computer keyboard again.

Give it a couple of games and we might have a better idea of who's up for this and who isn't, but matchday one is a bit of a stab in the dark.

So I've been racking my brains for a system and I think I've come up with the goods.

The first one is to take on the longest travellers. I needed a bit of help finding where some of these clubs are, and unfortunately my old Reader's Digest Atlas still directs me to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. But with a bit of Wiki help I reckon St Etienne's trip to Azerbaijan, where they play FK Qarabag, and Dynamo Kiev's long-haul assignment at Rio Ave in Portugal will be the ones clocking up most air miles.

Both away teams are favourites at a shade of odds-against and there can't be anything to lose taking them on. Well, apart from a bit of cash I suppose.

The other system is called Airport Watch - find out who's on the plane, and more importantly, who's not.

Spurs headed off to Belgrade without Soldado, Adebayor, Dembele, Chadli or Kaboul, and opponents Partizan are no mugs, so there's every reason to take on odds-on Tottenham. Mind, Danny Rose has been left behind as well.

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Match in Focus

18:00 TODAY BT2

Mgladbach v Villarreal

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Villarreal had the best away record outside La Liga’s top three last season
Expert verdict
Gladbach found their cutting edge in a 4-1 dismantling of Schalke on Saturday. It was impressive stuff but the German side had not really clicked in the Bundesliga before that result, so trusting them requires a leap of faith. With uncertainty about their consistency, preference is for the increasingly reliable Yellow Submarine.