James Cormack (@jamescormack_) previews Crusaders v Wolves and provides us with his best bets for this Europa League second-leg qualifier by analysing team news, potential line-ups, head-to-head, key stats and facts and more.
- 2019 Profit & Loss: +8.47pts
Crusaders v Wolverhampton Wanderers Betting Preview, Odds & Tips
- Date: 01/07/19
- Time: 20:00
- Venue: Seaview Stadium
- Channel: Premier Sports
Wolves will be looking to seal a place in the final qualifying round of this season’s Europa League as they take on a Crusades side that are 100/1 with some bookies to overturn the 2-0 margin.
Goals from Diego Jota and Ruben Vinagre mean that Wolves come into the second-leg with a bit of breathing room. However, I think that many would’ve expected the Premier League side to have scored a few more at Molineux last week and Vinagre’s goal did come in the third minute of stoppage time.
Nevertheless, Wolves did dominate proceedings; racking up 30 shots and ending the game with 80% possession. I would expect something similar on Thursday night in front of a sold-out Seaview Stadium that has a capacity of 3,383.
The Northern Irish outfit would’ve been happy with just a 2-0 deficit, but, they are still massive underdogs to just get a win here, they’re 33/1 with BetVictor.
After winning the NIFL title in 2018, Crusaders finished 4th last season which saw them secure qualification into the first-qualifying round of the Europa League. Their title victory two seasons ago meant they qualified for the Champions League qualifiers for the 2018-19 season and in the first round, they met Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad. The tie was a no-contest as the Crues were summoned to a 9-0 aggregate defeat, a margin that some would’ve predicted for this tie.
In the previous round, Crusaders overcame B36 Torshavn, a side who finished third in the Faroe Islands Premier League in 2018. After a 2-0 victory at the Seaview Stadium, the Northern Irish side went and beat them 3-2 away, progressing by a 5-2 aggregate scoreline.
This is a massive chance for Wolves to qualify for the Europa League group stages for the first time in their history. Even though they still have to get through one more qualifying phase after this one, I’ll back Nuno’s side against most. I think they have the potential to do some damage in the competition; they’re stout defensively, swift on the counter and very clinical upfront. Last season we saw their ability to beat the big teams home and away, in two-legged football, I think they’ll be incredibly dangerous. If they do end up qualifying, they’re a dark-horse to go all the way this season.
Crusaders are hopeful that club captain Colin Coates is fit enough to start on Thursday night after he missed the game at Molineux. Other than that, I expect a similar starting XI to the first leg.
I’d expect Nuno Espirito Santo to field another strong side with the likes of Raul Jimenez and loan signing Jesus Vallejo featuring.
Ruben Neves will likely be rested due to the minor injury he sustained in the first-leg, Wolves will be wanting their star central midfielder 100% fit for their opening game of the season against Leicester in 12 days-time. Matt Doherty is also likely to miss out due to a knee injury.
Potential Crusaders Starting XI: O’Neill, Forsythe, Burns, Coates, Hegarty, Caddell, Hale, Thompson, Lowry, Heatley, Clarke
Potential Wolves Starting XI: Patricio, Traore, Coady, Boly, Vallejo, Vinagre, Gibbs-White, Saiss, Moutinho, Jota, Jimenez
Head To Head
- Last week’s fixture was the first between the two sides and Wolves were victorious by a 2-0 scoreline.
Key Stats & Facts
- Last week’s win was the first for Wolves in Europe since 1980 when they beat PSV in the second leg of the first round of the UEFA Cup.
- Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota combined for 22 goals in the PL last season.
- Last season’s 7th place finish was the best achieved by Wolves in the Premier League and their best in the English top-flight since 1979/80 where they ended the season in 6th.
- Crusaders finished 4th in the NIFL last season. A year after winning their 7th Irish League Championship.
- Stephen Baxter has been in charge of the Crues since 2005; winning 3 NIFL titles, 2 Irish Cup’s, 3 County Antrim Shields and a Setanta and Irish League Cup.
- Paul Heatley was the top-scorer for Crusaders last season, scoring 14 times.
- Crusaders 33/1
- Draw 9/1
- Wolves 1/8
Crusaders are massive underdogs just to get a win on Thursday, let alone qualify. There’s little value in backing the English side to win at the Seaview Stadium, so I’ve got to delve a little bit deeper to find some value in this one. One bet I like is for Ruben Vinagre to get on the scoresheet, just like he did in the final seconds at Molineux last week. The Portuguese man operates as a left wing-back in Nuno’s 5-3-2 but was granted little game-time last season due to the performances of Jonny. His goal last week was a type of goal we got accustomed to seeing from Matt Doherty last season, simply gambling at the back post. His 4/1 odds is pretty decent value if he starts on Thursday night.
The other bet I like for this one is Wolves to win with a -2.75 handicap. Despite only winning 2-0 at home, Wolves completely dominated and on another day, it may have been 4 or 5. Although I do expect Crusaders to better their one total attempt from last week’s game, I think we’ll see a much more clinical performance from this Wolves side in Northern Ireland on Thursday. Diego Jota and Raul Jimenez, who were pivotal to their success last season, may also feel like they have something to prove as it looks like Wolves have secured the signing of Patrick Cutrone, a promising no.9 from AC Milan.