Predictable games fail to get my juices flowing

I HAVE long been a supporter of the much-maligned Europa League - it’s much better TV than those dodgy soaps and it finishes just in time for me to get my latest fix of Celebrity Juice - but even I am struggling with this round of matches.

My Holly Willoughby fantasies usually relent for 90 minutes as I try to find a dodgy stream of AEL Limassol against Hapoel Kiryat Shmona to see how my latest scorecast coup is going but I’m half-tempted to give Emmerdale a go so bad is the choice for football punters on Thursday.

We can all pretend it’s a tremendous climax and the nerves will be jangling at Tottenham, who must avoid defeat against Panathinaikos to quality. But they won’t.

We all know they’ll qualify and Brendan Rodgers doesn’t even pick his strongest team for this competition so it will serve him right if Liverpool get chinned against Udinese.

Newcastle head to Bordeaux having already qualified and my initial thought process was to lump on the French team, however, thanks to Google translate I have managed to find some team news which means they are a side to avoid.

According to France Football’s English translation: “Ludovic Obraniak (ankle) and Abdou Traoré (intestinal infection) are still unavailable, Cédric Carrasso Jussiê Benedict Trémoulinas, Mariano, Yoan Gouffran, Jaroslav Plasil and Henrique were put to rest.”

However, the hosts are boosted by the fact “Landry N'Guémo, recovered from his painful patella and Henri Saivet, embarrassed his last days by muscle problems, make their return.”

Embarrassed by muscle problems eh? I know the feeling, pal.

Anyway, the day ends in a Y so I should at least try to have a punt and the best bet could be Athletic Bilbao (last season’s runners-up but already eliminated this season) to beat Sparta Prague.

Athletic have Fernando Llorente back which is a big plus. It’s been a nightmare time for Fernandos - Alonso was odds-on to win the F1 title before getting done, Torres has got another couple of managers the sack at Chelsea and Llorente has been dropped by Athletic after failing to sign a new contract.

However, the big Basque forward is back in favour and with in the team and Athletic can at least finish a dismal Europa campaign on a high.

And with money in the bag from Athletic’s win it will be time to settle down and tune into Keith Lemon cracking the jokes and Holly Willoughby just looking cracking.

Bang tidy indeed.

Match in Focus

12:45 TODAY BT1

Newcastle v Liverpool

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • The last time this fixture produced a goalless draw was in 1974, 64 meetings ago
Expert verdict
This pair have produced some classics down the years and six of the eight meetings since Newcastle returned to the top flight for 2010-11 have finished with over 2.5 goals. The teams have kept just four Premier League clean sheets between them and Newcastle's recent form suggests they can give Liverpool a decent contest.

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