(Everyone but the bookies can be celebrating if Huntelaar can bag another)
Our tie of the week doesn't come in the Champions League but instead in the less glamorous European competition of the Europa League where the ultra attacking German side Schalke play host to Athletic Bilbao who showed a great deal of quality when beating Man United in both legs in the previous round of matches. Since losing three in a row (Bayern, Freiburg & Twente) at the end of February/beginning of March, Schalke have gone into overdrive winning three times in the league & scoring 9 goals plus overturning their 1-0 deficit in the first leg by slamming Scchhhhhteve McClaren's Twente 4-1 in the home game. They were our fancy for outright glory in this competition once it got down to the knockout stages & that was thanks to their outstanding front pairing of Raul & Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the 'Hunter' has been in incredible goalscoring form with 40 in 38 games this year putting him right there with the best around & he has 13 in 10 European games this season, 13/10 for Huntelaar to score at anytime is simply the wrong price & should be backed heavily.
(Javi Martinez could be key for Athletic Bilbao if they're to succeed in Germany)
Bilbao haven't won in 4 in the league but looked outstandingly organised, hardworking & importantly plenty of qaulity when going forward when beating United home & away, that quality up front is spearheaded by Fernando Llorente whose power & finesse is right up there with the best strikers around currently. Llorente should be fit here which means they'll have an attacking threat & they'll want an away goal (overrated as away goals are....) so that means there should be chances in the game & both sides can finish so 8/11 about over 2.5 goals looks very nice odds. Athletic Bilbao concede over a goal a game in La Liga & we just feel that without a watertight defence any team will pay the price against Schalke - they've played some great stuff in recent weeks & Jermaine Jones has often been instrumental, he'll sit in front of his defence in this one & help drive the team forward at every opportunity, always seeming to play a pass that puts the team on the attack. With home advantage we feel that last year's Champions League semi finalists Schalke will come out on top in this one & Bilbao are maybe being slightly overrated after beating Man United who've disappointed in Europe all season, at odds against we have to be with the Schalke win at 6/5 as they look to push on for outright glory.
We're anticipating one of the games of the season so don't be surprised to see this end up 0-0 now!
Schalke 04 to beat Athletic Bilbao at 6/5 (various)
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to score at anytime at 13/10 (Coral)
Schalke v Athletic Bilbao over 2.5 goals at 8/11 (BetVictor, Stan James & Boylesports)