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Schalke v Athletic Bilbao: Stalemate to come between even sides

| 29.03.2012

Schalke will have home advantage in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final, as they welcome Manchester United-conquerors Athletic Bilbao to the Veltins-Arena, priced at 11/10 for victory.

Bilbao, whose price for tournament glory was slashed to 10/3 after defeating two-time Champions League winners United in the round of 16, are 12/5 to claim a first leg away victory as they did at Old Trafford.

It is the same price that the sides play out a draw, and this could be an appealing proposition to get behind, with each club looking dangerous and an undesirable draw for anyone left in the competition.

Goals appear a certainty in the clash however, with both teams scoring in all but one of Bilbao’s past six games in Europe, and in four of the hosts’ last six, making the 8/13 for both teams to score in the match look an attractive bet.

Even more appealing is the 3/1 price attributed to a score draw in the match, and as either side has averaged close to two goals per game in their respective Europa League campaigns, it could be worth taking a punt on a 2-2 scoreline at 14/1.

The obvious threats of either side in attacking departments are also a contributory factor to goals being an apparent surety in the match, and an abundance of first scorer options are available.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has hit back-to-back Europa League hat-tricks for Schalke to take him to the top of the competition’s goal charts, and the Dutch striker is 7/2 to add to his nine European strikes with the opener here.

Meanwhile, all-time Champions League top scorer Raul is 11/2 to break the deadlock, whilst Fernando Llorente, who notched in either leg of Bilbao’s triumph over Manchester United, is 6/1 to score first.



John Klee