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Stoke will field strong team as they look to top Europa League group

| 13.12.2011

Stoke travel to Besiktas on Wednesday knowing that a point will see them top Group E.

With the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United now entering the Europa League, topping the group could be essential to Stoke’s chances of progression.

Fatigue could play a part after the away side’s hard fought triumph over Tottenham at the weekend, but the size of Tony Pulis’s squad nowadays means he can rotate players to good effect across varied competitions.

Stoke are a big 3/1 to win in Turkey, with the home side 8/11 to get the victory that would see them crowned group winners.

The draw that would see Stoke finish atop Group E is priced at 12/5, and with Pulis likely to make changes yet still field a strong team, this could prove a shrewd bet against a dangerous Besiktas outfit.

Lazio vs Sporting Lisbon looks an interesting clash in Group D, with the home side desperate for victory to give themselves a chance to qualify over the group winning Portuguese team.

The Italians are 8/15 to score a crucial win, but they need to better the result of FC Vaslui to qualify, and the Romanians travel to winless FC Zurich, priced 5/4 for a victory.

In Group F, Athletic Bilbao have already secured the group, so could field a weakened side in their visit to Paris, making the 4/7 for a home win look good.

Victory may not be enough though, as Salzburg travel to one-point Slovan Bratislava, knowing a win will see them through.
They are 8/11 to get it.

The other English side in Europa League action are Fulham, who should justify a 1/5 price tag to overcome Odense and progress from Group K.

Group J meanwhile, remains wide open with only Schalke qualified.

They travel to 6/5 Maccabi Haifa, who would go through with a win, whilst 1/2 Steaua host 9/2 Larnaca, knowing victory for either sees them through should Schalke triumph at 7/4.



John Klee