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Europa Conference League: West Ham set for easy route to last eight

There are another eight Europa Conference League ties taking place this midweek, with teams battling to reach the quarter-final stage.

West Ham are well in the running to win the competition outright and look a safe bet to advance to the quarter-finals as they bring home a 2-0 advantage over AEK Larnaca after winning last week in Cyprus. 

Michail Antonio netted twice with David Moyes' men enjoying a nice distraction from a difficult Premier League campaign thus far. 

Meanwhile, Villarreal, who reached the semi-finals of last season's Champions League, face a challenge to get through to the last eight of the competition after Anderlecht held them to a 1-1 draw in Belgium. 

Italian giants Lazio are in an even more perilous position after going down 2-1 to AZ Alkmaar at home in their opening tie.

Hammers may rest key personnel 

WhatWest Ham v AEK Larnaca
WhereLondon Stadium
WhenThursday 16th March, 20:00
How to watchBT Sport 3
OddsWest Ham 2/9, draw 19/4, Larnaca 14/1

West Ham's frustrating Premier League season showed little sign of abating in their last game on Sunday as they could only muster a 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa. 

A Said Benrahma penalty kick quickly cancelled out Ollie Watkins' first-half header but despite the fact Moyes' side looked the more dangerous of the two teams, they could not take their chances clinically enough. 

They return to European action hoping to complete a professional job and earn a spot in the last eight of the Conference League.

For all their struggles domestically, West Ham have been impeccable in Europe, winning all nine of their games so far this season and can approach this second leg in a more relaxed fashion, with another two-goal winning margin is available at 3/1

Moyes did make alterations to his side for last week's game and more could follow, with Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen maybe settling for a place on the bench. 

Antonio will hope to return to fitness to add to his goals tally from last week and he is 6/5 to score anytime in the game, while Danny Ings - searching for his first European goal in a Hammers shirt - is 11/10 to get on the scoresheet at any point. 

Larnaca provided a few issues for West Ham early on last week so the Londoners have to be wary but another routine victory looks to be on the cards, and they can be backed at 8/11 to win the zero. 

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Euro experts Villarreal set for Belgian battle 

WhatVillarreal v Anderlecht
WhereEstadio de la Cerámica
WhenThursday 16th March, 20:00
How to watchBT Sport 7
OddsVillarreal 4/9, draw 7/2, Anderlecht 13/2

Villarreal have shone on the European stage in recent seasons and are therefore highly regarded in this competition - priced at 3/1 To Win Outright, behind only 5/2 West Ham in the betting. 

They defeated Manchester United on penalties to win the Europa League in 2021 and seal a return to Champions League football, a competition they impressed in last year. 

The Yellow Submarine got all the way to the semi-finals before losing against Liverpool but gained huge credit in the process. 

This season has been more complex given they lost their manager Unai Emery to Aston Villa before the World Cup - a big blow considering his record of winning competitions in Europe. 

Villarreal are sixth in La Liga having won only two of their last seven domestically, while they are winless in three European matches. 

Anderlecht stopped them from ending that record in the first leg with Anders Dreyer's goal cancelling out a strike from Manu Trigueros, who is 10/3 as an Anytime Goalscorer. 

The Belgian outfit are ninth in the Pro League and may need to win this match to maintain their European hopes for next season alive. 

Neither team arrive into this in stellar form so it is a hard game to call. Villarreal have kept only one clean sheet in seven games while Anderlecht's record stands at one in eight. Both sides to score and over 2.5 goals is 7/5.

Lazio second favourites against AZ 

WhatAZ Alkmaar v Lazio
WhereAFAS Stadion
WhenThursday 16th March, 20:00
How to watchBT Sport 9
OddsAZ Alkmaar 19/20, draw 23/10, Lazio 29/20

Maurizio Sarri's Lazio - 6/1 for Conference League glory outright - are well in the hunt for a Champions League place next season and currently sit third in what is a titanic fight for second in Serie A behind runaway leaders Napoli. 

However, things have not exactly gone to plan for Sarri in Europe. Lazio were involved in the Europa League before Christmas but a run of only two wins from six saw them drop down to the Conference League knockout round playoffs. 

There, they only just edged past Romanian side CFR Cluj with striker Ciro Immobile scoring the only goal across two legs. He could be a vital player in this game and is rated at 7/5 in the Anytime market on Thursday. 

The result against Cluj contributes to a record of just three wins from nine in Europe this season, one that needs to be improved upon if they are to reach the last eight. 

AZ are in the Eredivisie title battle, only five points off leaders Feyenoord, and they may also be set for a strong European run after coming from behind to beat Lazio in Rome. 

With that in mind, the price for over 2.5 goals is 19/20. They now have home advantage and that could be significant with AZ losing just twice on their own patch all season across all competitions. 

The Dutch side are 8/15 Double Chance to preserve their excellent home form and cause frustration for Sarri and Lazio.

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