Crusaders and Wolves meet in the 2nd leg of their Europa League 2nd round qualifier, taking place in Belfast on Thursday night, kicking off at 8:00pm local time. Wolves have one foot in the next round already, having won the first leg 2-0, and start this tie as overwhelming favourites.

Home Team: Crusaders

Crusaders won the Northern Ireland domestic cup last season, which paved the way for them to qualify for the tournament. Despite the cup success, they did relinquish their title to Linfield who are trying to qualify for the Champions League instead. In their history in European football, the Crusaders have not advanced beyond the 2nd qualifying stage, so a comeback win on Thursday night could be remembered as their greatest ever night in the club’s history.

Even the most ardent fan would admit it’s an almost impossible scenario, but they only lost the first leg 2-0. The score doesn’t explain the whole flow of the game though, as the Crusaders conceded 30 shots in the game, and couldn’t get a shot on target all game from themselves. Can the Crusaders be a stern task for Wolves here in front of their own fans?

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Away Team: Wolves

Wolves had an exceptional first season in the Premier League after being promoted, as manager Nuno Espirito Santo received well-deserved plaudits throughout. Not only did they finish in the 7th position, but they also were the most competitive team against the top six. Therefore, Wolves will feel confident in this year’s European competition, and will hope to have a long and extensive run here.

They haven’t been in Europe since 1980, where they were eliminated in the first round way back then. In the previous leg, where they were utterly dominant, goals from Diogo Jota, and a late one from Ruben Vinegre gave them some breathing space ahead of the next fixture. Wolves will hope to get the job done with consummate ease, as long as they don’t take the foot off the pedal.

Head to Head

Their meeting at Molineux last week was their first ever competitive meeting, which Wolves had won 2-0.

Predictions and Betting Tips

Crusaders are at 12/1 to win on the night, with Wolves at 1/7. For the sides to draw, which will see Wolves progress, is at 6/1. The Crusaders fans will be massively up for this game, as a game against an English side doesn’t come up too often. The stadium, with the capacity of just over 3,000 will try and create a hostile atmosphere to try and conjure up a dramatic night. Even so, I’d back Wolves to get a comfortable victory here, and I believe they can mirror their result they got at home, which is a 2-0 score line – priced at 5/1.

To boost the earnings on that score line, you can introduce a first goal scorer to make it a Scorecast, so choosing Raul Jimenez to score first in a 2-0 score line is at 15/1. To maximise your earnings on a Wolves victory, you can back them to win to nil at 3/4, win both halves at 23/20 or to win by a 3+ goal margin at 5/4. If you back Crusaders in any capacity, you will be rewarded no matter how slight it is. For example, even backing them to score is at 1/1 (EVENS). Alternatively, you can back them to win either half at 4/1, or be the first team to score in the game at 15/4.

Finally, for the tipsters, you can back the Crusaders to win 3-1, meaning Wolves would qualify via the skin of their teeth, on the away goals rule.

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