Roma vs. Bayer Leverkusen Betting Tips: Michael Oliver to be at the centre of Thursday's Europa League semi-final
Who will draw first blood in the Europa League semi-final between Roma and Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday? We've explored this intriguing first leg tie and weighed in with our two best betting angles.
Serie A has proven a tough nut to crack for Jose Mourinho since his return to top flight Italian football. Last season Roma finished in sixth and find themselves one place lower this time around with four fixtures remaining.
It's a similar story for Leverkusen this campaign who have been unable to match or build upon their 21/22 third-placed Bundesliga success. Being eight points worse off than Freiburg in fifth means all attention is firmly set on this clash.
Thursday's hosts have failed to secure a win in their last four since booking this semi-final date. Leverkusen, however, blitzed past Union Saint-Gilloise 5-2 on aggregate, putting in a convincing 4-1 victory on the road in the quarter-final second leg.
Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen Tips
Michael Oliver takes charge of his eighth European fixture of the current season here. In the seven 22/23 Champions League matches he's spearheaded, four penalties have been awarded.
The stats don't dry up there either, as Oliver has pointed to the spot on 11 occasions in the Premier League this term - the joint-highest of any referee in the competition.
Roma have been handed 13 penalties within Serie A, Europa League and Coppa Italia, while Leverkusen bump that figure up by a further nine across all comps.
Jose Mourinho is also all too familiar with the English referee. Although he hasn't reffed a Roma game in his career yet, no other PL official has given away more penalties against the Special One's sides than Oliver - six across 21 matches to be precise, which averages out at one every 3.5 encounters.
For those who don't have a Paddy Power account, bet365 also go 2/1 for the same bet.
Oliver averages 23.9 fouls per 90 from this season's Champions League coverage. He's brandished one red in that competition, along with another in the English top flight.
However, Mourinho's Roma carry the standout numbers in this department. They've received four reds in Serie A, while a total of 15 have been shown across their 48 matches this term. Six of these have come in their last 11, providing quite a strong trend towards the business end of the season.
In Leverkusen's camp, the Germans possess the Bundesliga's joint-fifth most fouled player in Jeremie Frimpong. They also boast Piero Hincapie who has drawn two or more fouls in five of his six Europa League appearances this campaign.
Leipzig were recent victims to this when Dominik Szoboszlai was given his marching orders late into their Bundesliga meeting three games ago.
The visitor's away league record remains solid - three of their four losses coming to the division's top three sides - and stands them in good stead for frustrating the hosts.
Michael Oliver is also an official cut from the same cloth as Howard Webb and Mike Dean before him. He's often involved in games containing big decisions and doesn't mind finding himself under the spotlight.