Unlike many of Thursday’s UEL fixtures, this match is anything but a dead-rubber. Both Zorya and Bilbao are fighting to make it through in second place, and so the crowd in attendance at Arena Lviv should witness an enthralling encounter. As things stand, it is Bilbao who look the more likely to go through, as they hold a two-point lead over their opponents. With this being the case, just a point is needed for the Spaniards to finish in second place. However, the hosts might just fancy themselves to get all three points, especially since they beat Bilbao away from home.
Having lost to Zorya in front of an expectant home crowd in the reverse fixture, Bilbao will be out for revenge in this fixture. What’s more, the visitors need a result to ensure they’re playing in this competition after Christmas. In truth, the Spanish side, though they probably weren’t at their best when Zorya visited San Mamés, should’ve won the reverse fixture. Zorya barely threatened, while Bilbao hit the woodwork twice. They might be away from home, at a place that isn’t easy to visit, but there will be no excuses for José Ángel Ziganda’s team this time.
Backing the visitors to come out on top and book their place in the next phase is the way to go. As good as their win over Athletic was, it’s very hard to see lightning striking twice for Zorya, especially if the visitors are allowed to dominate possession.
Two wins from two in this competition has lifted Bilbao into a far more respectable position and, having finally found their attacking feet when scoring three against Hertha on match-day five, they can kick on here. Offensively, even if they’ve scored one less than Ostersunds, Bilbao have probably been the best side in this group. They are a side capable of fashioning several chances in a game, and such creativity is fancied to prove crucial against a Zorya side who, despite starting well, have started to struggle in this competition.
The Ukrainian side did manage to put themselves into contention by beating both Hertha and Bilbao earlier in the group, but it was back to normal after that, as they lost out to the Germans, before losing to Ostersunds for the second time. In that last match, Zorya’s attacking threat was virtually non-existent, while they once again looked shaky at the back. Against a Bilbao side who will come forward, the hosts are expected to struggle.
A secondary bet is ‘Aritz Aduriz to Score Anytime’ the veteran hitman, who loves this competition, was once again on the score-sheet when scoring a brace against Hertha last time out. With Zorya likely to spend lots of the game defending in their own box, the visitors will no doubt target the big forward with plenty of crosses. Such tactics so often pay dividends for Bilbao, and it is Aduriz who can steer them to victory here.
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