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Genoa vs. Valencia: Europa League Preview

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A handful of games that still have something riding on them in the Europa League on Thursday and the standout fixture is in Italy where Genoa host Valencia.

Genoa know that a win is almost certainly required if they are to progress, Valencia sit top and a point will do, but they look distinctly ordinary to me and the La Liga side should gain at least the draw they need to advance.

The pair met on Matchday 2 at the Mestalla when a late David Villa penalty gave the host side a 3-2 win and that result was just one of 17 European matches currently unbeaten for Valencia. Villa>

Villa should feature again, the Spanish ace has 12 goals in 13 top flight matches already this season, and he’ll be hoping to maintain his superb form for club and country in the build up to the World Cup.

Unusually for Unai Emery’s men they are thriving away from home this season, picking up six wins already from seven games in La Liga on their travels, and preserving their unbeaten run in Group B will be enough for them to progress.

It remains to be seen what side Emery chooses to field but he has played most of his big guns in the Europa League so far this season and, with the outcome very much of meaning, he should do so once again at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

With the likes of the excellent David Silva and the emerging talent that is Juan Mata, Valencia rarely struggle for goals - unlike Thursday’s opponents. Genoa have just seven in this competition from their opening five matches, they were held to a goalless draw against bottom of the table Slavia Prague last time out, and they are hardly prolific domestically either.

While Argentine striker Hernan Crespo, now 34, still has something to offer in attack he is a shadow of his former self and goal scoring duties now fall to the likes of Crespo’s fellow countryman Rodrigo Palacio. He has just one to his name in Serie A however during the current campaign, where Genoa are currently languishing in tenth place, and, should he get the nod, Palacio will have a tough time up against the likes of David Navarro and Carlos Marchena.

Genoa were beaten 1-0 by Lazio on Sunday and it is now just one victory in five matches in all competitions. That came against rivals Sampdoria but Valencia are a different proposition altogether and the visitors were unlucky to be beaten by Real Madrid in their latest fixture.

Home advantage should never be underestimated, particularly in European competition, but Genoa are easily opposed having been installed as favourites at around the 2.65 mark and their need for the three points is likely to leave them susceptible at the back. That’s far from ideal against the likes of Villa and Silva and the away side are fancied to strike themselves to all but end the hosts’ involvement.

2pts Lay Genoa (vs. Sampdoria) @ 2.65 (Betfair)

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