Romania's FC Astra were a relative unknown heading into the year's Europa League competition, at least to British fans anyway. However, they've catapulted themselves into the spotlight with a pair of Europa League wins over UK teams. In the second qualifying round, they secured victory over Scotland's Inverness CT, before beating West Ham over two legs earlier this month. After a terrific 2014-15 season, AZ Alkmaar probably lost too many players to enjoy the same level of success in 2015-16. It's the nature of Dutch football and there are some young players in Alkmaar's squad, who will improve. They beat Turkish side Istanbul Buyuks comfortably in the last round of Europa League play, but they haven't looked particularly strong in Dutch Eredivisie play so far. They were thrashed by Ajax to open the season and then held 2-2 by Excelsior. Defensive frailty and a little inexperience could count against them in Romania on Thursday night. Our betting tips anticipate FC Astra to steal this game, based on the way they handled the games against West Ham and on AZ Alkmaar's difficult start to this year's campaign.
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- PickAstra to win 1
- Odds+105 Sportingbet
- Match result3-2 (+8.40)