St Johnstone are tipped to struggle against Eskisehirspor, while several British and Irish teams are expected to follow suit as Europa League qualifying continues
Scottish Premier League club St Johnstone are being given little chance by the bookies of making the most of their surprise Europa League campaign, which gets underway on Thursday with a difficult trip to Turkey to take on Eskisehirspor.
It will only be the third time St Johnstone has competed in Europe and comes after the Perth-based club was one of the biggest beneficiaries of Rangers' stunning fall into liquidation and subsequent expulsion from both the Scottish Premier League and European competition.
St Johnstone finished sixth in the SPL last season, which under normal circumstances would not have been good enough for the club to qualify for Europe.
But with third-placed Motherwell instead taking the place of Rangers in this season's Champions League as one of Scotland's two representatives, alongside reigning title holders Celtic, that meant sixth-placed St Johnstone took the last of Scotland's three Europa League places for 2012-13 at the second qualifying round.
They will compete alongside fourth-placed Dundee United and fifth-placed Hearts, who will enter the competition at a later stage.
St Johnstone's only two previous European campaigns saw the club reached the third round of the UEFA Cup - now the Europa League - in 1971-72 and the first-round proper in 1999-2000.
However, so much has the competition grown since then that St Johnstone will have to win three qualifying rounds just to make it to the group stage this time around, but they are being given little chance in the first leg of their tie against Eskisehirspor.
The much-improved Turkish Super Lig team, which finished fifth last season, are $1.57 to win the first leg at home with Luxbet, with the draw at $5 and St Johnstone at $9.
|Eskisehirspor to win their Europa League first-leg match v St Johnstone at $1.57 at Luxbet
||Back St Pat's to defeat Siroki Brijeg in their first-leg match at $3.65 at Luxbet's draw-no bet market|
There are 40 Europa League ties to bet on at Luxbet on Thursday across Europe, with three other British-Irish sides in action.
However, like St Johnstone, they are all facing difficult away ties first-up and all will go in as underdogs.
Northern Irish outfit Portadown have the toughest task away to Croatian side NK Slaven Koprivnica, who have been installed as $1.23 favourites at Luxbet, with the draw at $5.50 and Portadown at $9.50.
League of Ireland team Sligo Rovers are at $6 at Luxbet for their first-leg away tie against Slovakia's Spartak Trnava at $1.51, but league rivals St Patrick's Athletic ‑ having successfully came through the first round of Europa League qualifying ‑ look to have the best chance of the four British and Irish representatives, away to Bosnian team Siroki Brijeg.
While the hosts are the $1.63 favourites at Luxbet, with the draw at $3.50 and St Pat's at $5, the Irish side are worth a bet in Luxbet's draw-no bet market at $3.65, where punters get their money back if the game ends in a draw.