Europa Conference League predictions: Mixed night expected for British duo
West Ham and Hearts will once again be flying the British flag in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, but it could be a mixed night for the pair as they bid to boost their chances of reaching the knockout stages.
Scottish outfit Hearts face a glamour tie in Group A, as they welcome Italian giants Fiorentina to Tynecastle, while West Ham will be looking to make it three wins from three in Group B when they visit Anderlecht.
Hearts vs Fiorentina (Thursday, 8pm)
Hearts bounced back from losing 4-0 at home to Istanbul Basaksehir in their opening group stage match to claim a 2-0 victory away to RFS in their most recent European fixture, a result that leaves Robbie Neilson's side second in the standings, two points ahead of Fiorentina.
However, the Jambos come into this match in poor form on home soil, as they have lost four of their last five fixtures at Tynecastle across all competitions, failing to score in each of those defeats.
Fiorentina have begun their Conference League campaign poorly, as they followed up a home draw with RFS by losing convincingly on the road to group leaders Basaksehir.
I Viola have been poor travellers for a while, as they are without a win in 12 matches on the road, a run that dates back to April.
Recent history appears to favour the visitors in this fixture, though, as Scottish clubs have only won two of the last 16 meetings with their Italian counterparts.
This is a showdown between a Hearts side lacking confidence in front of their home supporters and a Fiorentina outfit that struggle on their travels, but the Italian side should finally be able to record an overdue away victory in Edinburgh.
Vincenzo Italiano's side may have started the season poorly, but they have still picked up some impressive results along the way, recording notable draws with Napoli and Juventus over recent weeks in Serie A.
Hearts do not boast anywhere near the quality of those two sides and given the hosts have failed to score in four of their last five home fixtures, Fiorentina could represent good value at 21/20 to win the match to zero.
Anderlecht vs West Ham (Thursday, 5.45pm)
West Ham have won their opening two matches in Group B and they can move five points clear at the top of the standings with victory at Anderlecht.
Confidence should be high after the Hammers claimed only their second Premier League win of the season against Wolves last time out.
Striker Gianluca Scamacca scored his first league goal in that fixture to add to the three he has already netted in the Conference League this term.
Anderlecht sit second in the standings after taking four points from their opening two games and they can leapfrog West Ham with a victory at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
However, despite a steady start in Europe, Felice Mazzu's side are struggling for form domestically, winning just one of their last six Jupiler Pro League games.
West Ham have been made to work hard for their opening two victories in the group, as they have had to come from behind to get the better of both FCSB and Silkeborg, so it could be a similar story in Brussels.
David Moyes' side have only kept one clean sheet in four Europa Conference League matches this season — including in qualifying — and Anderlecht certainly know where the back of the net is, as they scored four in a recent home fixture against Kortrijk.
This is a match that West Ham are more than capable of winning, but given their tendency to concede goals, an away win and both teams to score at 13/5 could be the way to go.
Molde vs Shamrock Rovers (Thursday, 5.45pm)
It has not been a strong start for either Molde or Shamrock Rovers in Group F, with both teams collecting just a point apiece from their opening two fixtures.
However, domestically both teams are flying, with Thursday's hosts sitting a whopping 15 points clear at the top of the Eliteserien standings in Norway, while Rovers lead the way by five points in the League of Ireland Premier Division.
Molde's league form has been particularly eye-catching, as they are unbeaten in their last 19 Eliteserien fixtures, winning 17 of those games, while they are currently on an 11-match winning streak domestically.
Rovers, meanwhile, are poor travellers in Europe, winning just two of their last 11 away fixtures on the continent.
It is difficult to see anything other than a Molde victory in this one, given the Norwegian outfit have only lost one of their last 14 home fixtures at Aker Stadion.
Rovers did get a victory in their most recent away fixture, beating Sligo Rovers 3-1 last Saturday in the League of Ireland, but that is the only win Stephen Bradley's side have mustered inside 90 minutes across their last eight away contests.
The Irish champions are also yet to score in this season's group stage, so Molde winning to zero at 4/5 appeals.