Sporting Lisbon welcome Athletic Bilbao to Estadio Jose Alvalade for the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday night and there is little to choose between the two in the match odds. Sporting are priced 8/5 and Bilbao are 7/4, with the draw looking tempting at 9/4 with Paddy Power.
Athletic have the advantage of playing the second leg at home next week and they are 1/2 on to qualify for the final, where it would be an all-Spanish affair against either Valencia or Atletico Madrid.
Sporting are not to be underestimated though as the Portuguese side head into the match on an 11 match unbeaten run at home in Europe. They are 6/4 to make it through to the final and they have already upset the odds in the competition when they ousted Premier League title challengers Manchester City in the last-sixteen.
Furthermore, Sporting are unbeaten in 17 matches at home in all competitions, including a 1-0 win over City and victory over Benfica in the Portuguese League last time out. They may only be fourth in the Portuguese table but, like Bilbao, they have saved their best for the Europa League this season. Striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel has been particularly impressive, scoring five timesÂ in Europe and he is 11/2 to score first on Thursday.
Sporting have tended to start matches quickly, not least when going 2-0 up against Man City before losing 3-2 at the Etihad recently, and the double result of a half-time Sporting win and full-time draw can be backed at tempting odds of 12/1. Meanwhile, there have been six penalties in Sporting's last eight games and a penalty being awarded in Thursday's match is available at 2/1 with PaddyPower.
It is defensively that Sporting have been most impressive though as five of their last six games have gone under 2.5 and under 2.5 is 4/5 on this week. Their defence will be thoroughly tested by Bilbao, who have scored seven in their last two European away games.
Fernando Llorente is the main threat for the Spanish side as he is 9/2 to score last after scoring four goals in his last four Europa League games and three in his last three in La Liga. Bilbao are struggling inÂ seventh place in La Liga after winning just two of their last nine in all competitions but they have saved their very best for the Europa League.
They are unbeaten in five matches in Europe and have won four of their last six away in the competition, including victory at Manchester United. However, they have won just one of five away in all competitions and they might just have to settle with a draw this week, with the correct score of 1-1 available at 5/1 and the score draw can be backed at 16/5 with Paddy Power.
Sporting Lisbon v Athletic Bilbao Form
Check the season's statistics for both Sporting Lisbon and Athletic Bilbao, plus the odds ahead of Thursday's match.
Sporting Lisbon v Athletic Bilbao Tips
Tip #1: Score draw @ 16/5 with Paddy Power.
Tip #2: Fernando Llorente to score last @ 9/2 with Paddy Power.
Tip #3: Double result of a half-time Sporting win and full-time draw @ 12/1 with Paddy Power.
8/5 Sporting Lisbon
7/4 Athletic Bilbao
To Qualify Odds
6/4 Sporting Lisbon
1/2 Athletic Bilbao
Correct Score Odds
15/2 Sporting Lisbon 1-0
11/1 Sporting Lisbon 2-0
17/2 Sporting Lisbon 2-1
8/1 Draw 0-0
5/1 Draw 1-1
11/1 Draw 2-2
15/2 Athletic Bilbao 1-0
12/1 Athletic Bilbao 2-0
17/2 Athletic Bilbao 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds
9/2 Fernando Llorente
11/2 Ricky van Wolfswinkel
7/1 Diego Rubio
15/2 Gaizka Toquero
15/2 No Goalscorer
8/1 Matias Fernandez
9/1 Ibai Gomez
9/1 Iker Muniain
10/1 Sebastian Ribas
10/1 Markel Susaeta
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com, who provide over 100 betting markets, including live betting in-running, for both Europa League semi-finals.
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