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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Velodrome visitors Bilbao should not expect a comfortable ride from Marseille

Zenit can hit a high in Germany

Marseille forward Morgan Sanson (right)
1 of 1

Europa League last-16 first legs
BT Sport from 6pm Thursday

The standard of French top-flight football has been questioned following Paris St-Germain's poor showing against Real Madrid on Tuesday but Marseille – the third-placed team in Le Championnat – can show their quality by winning at home to Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.

Marseille are clearly not in the same class as PSG and suffered successive 3-0 losses away to the Parisians last month, going down in a league encounter and a League Cup tie just three days later.

However, they are emerging as potential dark horses in the Europa League after coming through a tricky round-of-32 clash against Braga 3-1 on aggregate.

The triumph over Braga was set up by a dominant 3-0 success in the first leg at the Stade Velodrome and Marseille will be confident of making home advantage count against Bilbao, who are 14th in La Liga and not renowned as confident travellers.

Bilbao have won on just two of their last 13 La Liga road trips and head to the south of France short of confidence after losing 2-0 at Sevilla on Saturday.

They could be in for another tough match against Marseille, who are unbeaten in 16 home matches.

Tournament favourites Atletico Madrid are long odds-on to make another positive step by winning at home to Lokomotiv Moscow.

Atleti seem determined to get their hands on a European trophy to atone for the disappointments at the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals and are justifiably short-priced against the Russian league leaders, who have had a fairly easy ride in the competition until now.

Borussia Dortmund are finishing the season strongly and are warm favourites to gain a first-leg advantage from their home tie against Salzburg.

The Black and Yellows are ten games unbeaten and came through an arguably tougher challenge in the last round, beating Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate.

Zenit St Petersburg won the Uefa Cup in 2008 and might be a shade overpriced to avoid defeat in their first leg at Leipzig.

European football is still fairly new to Leipzig, who are sixth in the Bundesliga and 24 points behind Bayern Munich.

The German hosts look poor value odds-on favourites against Roberto Mancini's Zenit, who dropped just two points in the group stage and defeated Celtic 3-1 on aggregate in the round of 32.

1pt 17-20 bet365, Betfred
Zenit or draw double chance
1pt 6-5 Betfair

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Bilbao have won on just two of their last 13 La Liga road trips and head to France low on confidence after losing 2-0 at Sevilla on Saturday
E.W. Terms
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