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Bilbao v Sporting: All-Spanish final a great incentive for hosts

| 26.04.2012

Although Athletic Bilbao enter their Europa League semi-final second leg on the wrong end of a 2-1 aggregate scoreline, they must fancy their chances of a home success over Sporting Lisbon at 4/7.

The Spanish outfit have a 100% home record against Portuguese sides, and have bested the likes of Manchester United and Schalke en route to this stage, where they hope to progress and meet Valencia or Atletico Madrid in what would be an all-Spanish final.

Sporting will take heart from their quickfire double in the first leg meanwhile, where two second half strikes in four minutes sealed victory, and those who fancy them to claim a first ever win on Spanish soil can back the Lions at 9/2.

It is 3/1 about the draw, and that result would suit the visitors, though the free-flowing style of the Portuguese outfit would suggest that they are unlikely to play for such an outcome.

Indeed, both sides have been free-scoring in this competition, with a massive combined total of 41 goals occurring in their knockout matches during the campaign.

With this in mind, many punters are likely to lap up the 6/4 odds about four or more goals featuring in this game.

Bilbao, unbeaten at home in the Europa League knockout phase, are 13/8 chances to win a game that involves three or more goals meanwhile, and this looks very tempting against a Sporting side yet to triumph on the road after the group stage of this year’s tournament.

Alternatively, more cautious punters will be inclined to take on the home side as 5/2 shots to win a game in which both teams find the net.

The provision of proven goalscorers in this fixture comes most blatantly in the form of Fernando Llorente, who is 3/1 favourite to get his seventh European goal of the season with the opener here.

Meanwhile, Iker Muniain has chipped in with five Europa League strikes this term, and looks big at 7/1 to break the deadlock on Thursday night.



John Klee