Europa Conference League predictions: Antwerp can outgun Lillestrom

Tom Hill
Spotlight
Mark van Bommel's in-form Royal Antwerp can see off Lillestrom to progress to the play-off round
Mark van Bommel's in-form Royal Antwerp can see off Lillestrom to progress to the play-off round

There are 29 Europa Conference League matches to come on Thursday, with plenty of drama expected across Europe as teams try to advance from the third qualifying round. 

Anderlecht, Royal Antwerp, AZ Alkmaar, Dundee United, Sligo Rovers and Young Boys are among those in action, with the play-off round still to come before the tournament proper. 

Royal Antwerp vs Lillestrom (Thursday, 6.30pm)

Antwerp will feel they can secure their spot in the next round when they entertain Lillestrom at home on Thursday. 

Mark van Bommel's men fell behind in the first leg, but two goals from Radja Nainggolan, and one from Dinis Almeida ensured they ran out 3-1 victors.

The stats

Antwerp have now won five matches on the spin across all competitions with Van Bommel's team last tasting defeat in May. 

Lillestrom started their domestic campaign with a 2-0 victory over Sarpsborg 08, but the mood in the camp could be low after they followed up the defeat to Antwerp with a 1-1 draw against Tromso. 

Prediction

Lillestrom need to go on the attack and have eight goals in their last four away games in all competitions, so they are expected to find the back of the net once again. 

However, Antwerp's home form should prove decisive, with a home win and both teams scoring looking like the way to go. 

Sligo Rovers vs Viking FK (Thursday, 7pm)

A miracle is needed for Irish outfit Sligo Rovers if they are to qualify for the next round of the Europa Conference League. 

John Russell's men went down 5-1 in Stavanger last week and they will need their Norwegian opponents to drop their standards dramatically if they are to have any chance of progressing. 

The stats

Rovers shocked Motherwell over two legs in the previous round, but they unable to match that level of performance against Viking FK. 

Two goals in the opening eight minutes last week secured the momentum for Viking in Norway, and it was a tough night at the office from there on for the League of Ireland side. 

Last week's defeat was Sligo's second in as many matches, but they did return to winning ways against Bohemians on Sunday. 

The momentum is with Viking, who are currently enjoying a three-match unbeaten run, winning two and scoring nine goals in the process. 

Prediction

Back on home soil, Rovers will want to go down fighting and at least give their fans something to cheer about. 

Finding the back of the net has not been an issue for them, as they have scored in each of their last five games.

Viking's superior class will shine through, however, and they could once again rack up the goals. 

Over 3.5 strikes is well worthy of consideration, as is an away win and both teams to score. 

AZ Alkmaar vs Dundee United (Thursday, 8pm)

Jack Ross looks to have his work cut out to engineer another Dundee United surprise
Jack Ross looks to have his work cut out to engineer another Dundee United surprise

Dundee United recorded a surprise victory in the first leg last week, but they will need to improve further to get the necessary result at the AFAS Stadion. 

The Tangerines recorded a 1-0 win on home soil, but they will be up against it when they travel to the Netherlands on Thursday. 

The stats

After beating Tuzla City 5-0 on aggregate in the second round of qualifying, AZ were brought back down to earth when they lost in Scotland last week. 

Thankfully, for boss Pascal Jansen, his side responded in style, beating Go Ahead Eagles 2-0 in their opening game in the Eredivisie on Sunday. 

The Terrors have yet to win in the Scottish Premiership this season, opening with a 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock before suffering a 1-0 defeat to Livingston at home last weekend.

They won only four of 19 away games last season in the league, scoring just 16 times. 

Prediction

With Dundee United having largely struggled on the road, AZ look set to make home advantage count and progress to the next round. 

The Dutch side lost only three times in the league at the AFAS Stadion last season, while they have won four and drawn one of five home games in the Europa Conference League.

Only Bodo/Glimt have prevented AZ from winning to nil in the Netherlands in this competition and the Scots look incapable of preventing a repeat success.

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