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Cologne could avoid throwing in another stinker

Germans can get the better of Bate

Cologne could finally have something to smile about
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Europa League
Bate Boriosov v Cologne BT Sport ESPN, 6pm Thursday

Bundesliga basement boys Cologne have had a miserable start to the season but are decent value to end a ten-match winless run by beating Bate Borisov in Belarus.

After taking one point from eight league games Cologne have fallen three points adrift at the foot of the German standings.

And they are propping up Europa League Group H after defeats away to Arsenal (3-1) and at home to Red Star Belgrade (1-0).

Head coach Peter Stoger is under immense pressure but his team have competed fairly well in recent games – losing 2-1 at home to Leipzig and 2-1 away to Stuttgart.

On both occasions they conceded inside the final ten minutes and it is going to take a huge effort to turn their fortunes around in an unforgiving league.

They need a win from somewhere to restore belief and the Europa League match with Bate looks a perfect opportunity.

The Belarus champions scraped a 1-1 draw at Red Star on matchday one despite losing the shot count 24 to 12 and were outclassed at home to a second-string Arsenal, losing 4-2.

Cologne competed better against a stronger Arsenal side at the Emirates in September and could get themselves back into qualification contention with a couple of decent results against Bate over the next fortnight.

The Billy Goats retain most of the players responsible for steering them to fifth place in Germany last season and may be about to draw a line under a dismal two months.

Czech leaders Viktoria Plzen have banked a maximum 30 points from ten games in their domestic league and will be full of confidence for their visit to Swiss strugglers Lugano.

Europa League

Everton v Lyon

Red Star v Arsenal

Plzen have taken three points from six in the Europa League but successive matches against Lugano offer a great opportunity to close in on knockout stage qualification.

Pavel Vrba's side triumphed 1-0 at domestic title rivals Sparta Prague on Sunday and should have too much quality for Lugano if they play with the same focus and intent.

Lugano have slipped to the foot of the Swiss top flight after five defeats in succession and are propping up Europa League Group G after losses away to Hapoel Beer Sheva (2-1) and at home to Steaua Bucharest (2-1).

They appear to be the weak link in the section and are heading for another defeat.

1pt 9-5 bet365
Viktoria Plzen
1pt 21-20 Betfred

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They need a win from somewhere to restore belief and the Europa League match with Bate looks a perfect opportunity
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