UEFA Cup Odds
Don't bet against Newcastle United coach Glenn Roeder fielding a weakened side for the English team's Thursday UEFA Cup match against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Newcastle have already secured first spot in Group H and qualification for the 32-team knockout stages of the competition.
Furthermore, the squad need to rest as Newcastle are perilously close to the bottom of the Premiership table -- their home win versus Portsmouth moved Newcastle only three points away from the relegation zone.
Over the past few days, midfielders Damien Duff and Craig Moore both suffered injuries and will be sidelined for a month. Celestine Babayaro and Stephen Carr both sat out the Portsmouth match and are questionable for the Frankfurt game.
Those injuries are compounded by the absence of Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi with long term infirmity and goalkeeper Steven Harper who is suffering from groin surgery. Glenn Roeder's key objective is to keep healthy what remaining players he has.
For the above reasons, the bookies have made Newcastle underdogs in this match at 4.33 bet odds. It's also a must-win game for Frankfurt to keep their knockout round chances alive.
In Group H, Turkish side Fenerbahce visit Celta Vigo after an important win over Palermo last week. That puts them in second spot with three points from two UEFA Cup matches -- two points ahead of Celta.
"We played one of our best matches of the season so far," Fenerbahce striker Mateja Kezman said after the Palermo victory. "I am proud to have beaten one of the in-form clubs in Italy. Now the path is open for us in the group. We will get at least a point at Vigo, then defeat Eintracht Frankfurt at home."
Fenerbahce are also 4.33 underdogs, with Vigo priced 1.75 wagering odds for a home win.
Spanish side Espanyol are one more group leader playing this week. They travel to Netherlands heavyweights Ajax Amsterdam who have two wins from two matches in Group F.
Coach Ernesto Valverde's Spanish team destroyed Zulte Waregem 6-2 and are putting their hopes on the UEFA Cup this year after sinking to the bottom half of the La Liga table.
Espanyol's chances in the UEFA Cup were improved when Ajax only managed a draw against Sparta Prague.
"It was an important match and a vital win against an unbeaten rival. It was a big thing for us to score goals, and Ajax's result takes the pressure off us," Espanyol striker Luis Garcia said.
The Dutch team, who have four points in two matches, remain betting favourites at 1.75 odds for this game.
Maybe the most interesting clash is in France as Lens host Group D leaders Parma. The two teams are at the top of their group. The hosts are bet favourites to win the match and go top of the group.
In Group G, leaders Panathinaikos can reach the knockout stages if they can beat Rapid Bucharest at home.
In Group A, Maccabi Haifa visit Livorno aware that a win would put them top of their group with nine points. Glasgow Rangers are presently tops with seven points. Rangers are 25/1 odds in the outright betting market to win the UEFA Cup.
Group C leaders AZ Alkmaar expect to claim their third straight win when they host Slovan Liberec. Plus Bayer Leverkusen look to get back on track in Group B in an away game against Dinamo Bucharest.
Finally, in Group E, Nancy entertain Feyenoord in a clash of clubs who simply want to reach the next stage of the UEFA Cup.