Southampton v Hapoel Be’er Sheva tips: Saints can secure place in last 32
It's winner-takes-all in Europa League Group K as Southampton welcome Hapoel Be'er Sheva to St Mary's on Thursday
December 7th, 2016
Southampton are just a single game away from a place in the last 32 of this season’s Europa League following some excellent results in the group stage, including home wins over Inter Milan and Sparta Prague. Will the Saints manage three on the bounce when they entertain Hapoel Be’er Sheva at St Mary’s this week? Even a draw would be enough but can Claude Puel’s men manage even this?
Southampton were in seventh heaven last week thanks to their 2-0 win over Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, however Puel’s side were brought crashing back to earth with a weekend Premier League defeat to a Crystal Palace outfit which had previously gone six matches without winning a single point. Cristian Benteke managed a brace with Jamie Tomkins also finding the net and the Saints boss admitted that mistakes were made but that his men have learned from these.
“It’s important to correct all that is possible, to analyse the game, to recover and to prepare in good condition with good attention for Thursday’s game, which is an important game,” Puel said to reporters. “For now, it is a good lesson for us… We won 2-0 at Arsenal and played a strong game. Perhaps we lacked concentration for this game, but it’s not an excuse. It was a bad game and it’s important to correct this and have a good reaction.
Have they actually learned from these mistakes? Let’s hope so, given that they will be facing a Hapoel side which also managed to beat Inter Milan earlier in the competition and held Southampton to stalemate in Israel in their last meeting. Both of these sides sit level on seven points apiece, although the Saints enjoy a much healthier goal-difference.
Southampton may have conceded to the Eagles at the weekend but they are usually pretty solid at the back with all but two of their last five outings seeing them keep clean sheets. We believe that they can keep the visitors at bay on Thursday evening and as such, we’ll be going with Boylesports’ 6/5 on a Saints win-to-nil.
An obvious choice on the anytime scorer market is Charlie Austin and with most bookmakers going odds-on that he finds the net on Thursday, William Hill’s 6/5 stands out a mile. Austin may be on a barren spell of late but he has scored in two of his last five games and should add to the scoreline at St Mary’s.