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The battle to reach the knockout stages continues in the Europa League
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Europa Conference League: Braga can add to Fiorentina's woes

The Europa Conference League returns on Thursday with the first leg of knockout play-off rounds, as the likes of Braga, Trabzonspor and Lazio join the party.

With teams such as West Ham, Villarreal and Nice waiting in the last-16 after topping their pools, this round features the eight teams who finished second in the group stage against the octet who came home third in their Europa League sections.

The influx of quality adds an extra layer of excitement and has thrown up some fabulous ties.

Braga bounce to continue

WhatBraga v Fiorentina
WhereEstadio Municipal de Braga
When17:45, Thursday 16th February
How to watchBT Sport 6
OddsBraga 31/20, Draw 12/5, Fiorentina 7/4

Barring a 5-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon, Braga have been flying, winning eight of their last nine, excluding that Lisbon loss, including beating Benfica on penalties in the Taca de Portugal.

Os Arcebispos were inconsistent in crashing out of the Europa League before Christmas but won two of their home matches, losing only to Union Saint-Gilloise, who produced a sucker punch with two late strikes from Gustaf Nilsson.

They also appear to be facing Fiorentina at the perfect time, with the Viola failing to win their last five Serie A games.

Vincenzo Italiano's side failed to take top seeding from Group A due to an inferior head-to-head goal difference behind Istanbul Basaksehir and, after slipping to 14th in the Italian top-flight, may have half an eye on Sunday's match with Empoli.

Viola beat both Hearts and FK Rigas 3-0 away from home in the groups, with a repeat Correct Score 28/1.

However, that looks unlikely and, despite Braga losing their star Vitinha to Marseille in January, current form suggests the home win still looks well priced at 31/20.

Home comforts for Trabzonspor

WhatTrabzonspor v Basel
WhereSenol Gunes Spor Kompleksi, Trabzon
When17:45, Thursday 16th February
OddsTrabzonspor 5/6, Draw 11/4, Basel 16/5

Trabzonspor's outstanding home record makes it remarkable that they dropped out of the Europa League despite winning their three matches in Trabzon.

Those results contributed to a run that has seen them avoid defeat at the Şenol Güneş Spor Kompleksi since August 2021 and their 5/6 price in the Full Time Result market is well deserved.

However, visitors Basel won their three away games in Conference League Group H and it was at home where they slipped up, losing 2-0 to Slovan Bratislava and drawing 2-2 with Zalgiris.

They head to Turkey on the back of Saturday's 3-1 win over Sion and have midfielder Mohamed Zeko Amdouni in fabulous form.

The 22-year-old has scored five goals in his last five matches and is 2/1 in the Anytime market.

Amdouni carries a threat and could aid his side but Trabzon is such a tough place to play. The Black Sea Storm could come out on top and are 13/5 in Results/Both Teams to Score.

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Look for Lazio improvement

WhatLazio v CFR Cluj
WhereStadio Olimpico, Rome
When20:00, Thursday 16th February
How to watchBT Sport 7
OddsLazio 4/11, Draw 15/4, CFR Cluj 8/1

Lazio may have failed to win any of their last four games in all competitions, but that includes defeats to Juventus and Atalanta and they have a chance to build confidence on Thursday against Cluj.

Maurizio Sarri's side are 5/1 To Win Outright and after falling out of the Europa League, have a real chance of going all the way to June's final in Prague.

First they need to overcome a Cluj team who have lost their last two matches and were hammered 3-0 by Sivasspor in their last away match in the Conference League.

They will probably head to the Eternal City with damage limitation on their mind, with a win at home Cristian Balaj's side's best hope.

Cluj lost 1-0 at the Olimpico when they travelled there in the Europa League in 2019 and a repeat of that Correct Score is 5/1.

With Lazio netting an average of 1.88 goals a game at home in all competitions, I Bianconcelesti are 9/4 to score 2 Goals in the Home Team Exact Goals market and have the chance to gain a confidence-boosting victory here.

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