Roberto Di Zerbi can take Brighton on a thrilling Europa League adventure

Roberto Di Zerbi can take Brighton on a thrilling Europa League adventure - Sport·2023-09-21 07:01

Roberto De Zerbi will handle the added pressure (Picture: Getty Images)

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi has one of the smartest brains in football and it’s about to be put to the test as he tackles a compelling new challenge in the Europa League.

One of the big questions facing the Italian is how to balance the demands of regular Thursday night football with the pressures of maintaining the Seagulls’ flying start in the Premier League.

It has been a problem which has perplexed numerous managers in the past with the increased demands of being competitive on all fronts proving too much to handle.

De Zerbi may be one to buck the trend, however, and Brighton can expect a deep run in the competition when they begin their adventure at home to AEK Athens.

He will also have to pit his wits against Ajax and Marseille in the pool stages, meaning the Sussex club are officially in the Group of Death, while the likes of Liverpool, West Ham, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and Villarreal lie in wait in the knockout rounds.

The best of the Champions League also-rans will also filter into the Europa League in the new year but don’t be surprised if De Zerbi is up to the task.

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But troubles will arise if Brighton remain in contention for a place in the top four after taking 12 points from their first five matches.

Their latest success was at Old Trafford where De Zerbi completely outwitted Erik ten Hag as Manchester United were dispatched to a humiliating 3-1 defeat.

Brighton made six changes and still triumphed, so it already appears they have the quality and depth to successfully juggle resources and they can be backed with confidence to win Group B at Betway’s 5/4.

The Seagulls are a cut above AEK Athens and a 2-0 victory is 11/2 with William Hill while Ansu Fati, on loan from Barcelona, could start after leaving the bench against United.

Ansu Fati can have a big impact if he starts for Brighton (Picture: Getty Images)

If he does, back him at 11/2 to open the scoring with SpreadEx and he’s 13/8 with the same firm to find the net at any time.

• Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is an expert at shuffling his pack to meet the demands of European football and the Reds are 17/2 with William Hill to win 3-0 at LASK Linz.

West Ham can go one better and beat Backa Topola 4-0 at the London Stadium at 15/2 with the same firm while Aston Villa should also win comfortably. They are 7/5 with Paddy Power and Betfair to lead HT/FT at Legia Warsaw in the Europa Conference League.

• Zhilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang is 11/10 with Ladbrokes and Coral to win his heavyweight rematch with British boxer Joe Joyce. Zhang is 13/8 with the same two firms to win by a knockout and it’s 7/2 with Betway that it’s all over in his favour between rounds seven and 12.


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