It has taken several years but, finally, bookmakers are not treating punters like mugs with their UEFA Europa League odds before the beginning of the 48-team group stage.
Of course, one has almost no chance of finding a bookmaker that will quote UEFA Europa League odds about sides that will play in the UEFA Champions League group stage but at least the odds about the teams in the UEFA Europa League currently reflect that eight UEFA Champions League sides will enter UEFA’s secondary tournament in February.
Every team takes the UEFA Champions League seriously and UEFA is hoping that every team will take the UEFA Europa League seriously now that its winner will qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League. That is an important piece of information to know before betting on this term’s UEFA Europa League, along with data pertaining to recent winners.
One believes that UEFA Europa League winners fit a profile – either slightly off the pace in one of Europe’s top leagues or leading the way in one of the continent’s second-class competitions, with the former having little hope of making it to the UEFA Champions League through domestic avenues.
Take last term’s UEFA Europa League winner, Sevilla, as an example. It was clear from very early on in the season that Sevilla had very little chance of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League via the Spanish Primera Division so it focused on the UEFA Europa League, eliminating Maribor, Betis, Porto, Valencia and Benfica in the knockout stage.
So, of the 48 sides in the UEFA Europa League from the off, which ones are worthy of interest to punters? With the odds on offer – bookmakers are betting +1600 the field – it makes sense to dutch multiple teams in the knockout competition.
One thinks that it is no coincidence that Spanish sides have the best recent UEFA Europa League record, with the Primera Division producing four finalists and three champions in the last five terms. It makes sense because the Spanish Primera Division is, arguably, Europe’s strongest domestic league and several talented teams kick off knowing that they have little chance of finishing towards the top of the ladder.
The Spanish Primera Division has four UEFA Champions League spots but three of them look locked in for Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid, leaving the likes of Bilbao, Sevilla, Sociedad, Valencia and Villarreal to fight over the scraps. The welcome introduction of a UEFA Champions League berth for the UEFA Europa League winner should serve only to increase the seriousness with which Spanish Primera Division sides treat UEFA’s secondary tournament. Therefore, one believes that Sevilla and Villarreal command respect.
Sevilla, which is available at odds of +2000 with several bookmakers, including Bet365, Paddy Power and William Hill, is attempting to repeat its feat of the mid 2000s by going back to back in the UEFA Europa League. Sevilla has a kind draw, including a home opener against a highly overrated Feyenoord team, and it will be motivated not only to put up a respectable title defence but also qualify for the UEFA Champions League. As it stands, bookmakers believe that Sevilla is destined to finish fifth in the Spanish Primera Division behind Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia in that order. Make no mistake – the UEFA Europa League may be Sevilla’s number one priority this season.
Spreadex is offering odds of +2800 about Villarreal winning the UEFA Europa League so dutching the two Spanish Primera Division sides produces odds of +1118 which, given what may unfold following the completion of the UEFA Champions League group stage, is an acceptable price in a tricky competition. Bet365 and Paddy Power are going +2500 on Villarreal.
Villarreal should experience few problems in qualifying for UEFA Europa League knockout stage having been grouped with Apollon, Monchengladbach and Zurich. It is worth noting that Villarreal’s toughest UEFA Europa League Group A assignment is its first match, though. Patient punters may prefer to back Sevilla before the first round of games and Villarreal after its first-up match away to Monchengladbach.
The group stages are done and dusted, and now that the teams who finished 3rd in the Champions League groups have entered the fray, the bookies have announced their betting and our picks from the start of the competition are still the value in the competition. If you’re not on them already, get on them now! We’re going to add Bilbao to the mix to give us a trio of Spanish teams to follow for Europa League glory.
Roma is the general UEFA Europa League favourite and one is of the opinion that the Wolves have bigger fish to fry than the tournament for which bookmakers rate them as the most likely winner. Roma is breathing down the neck of Italian Serie A leader Juventus – it is one point off the pace after 15 rounds and it has a home game against Juve to which to look forward in the second half of the campaign – and the Wolves have such a healthy buffer on third-placed Lazio that they are long odds on to qualify for next term’s UEFA Champions League without winning the UEFA Europa League.
General UEFA Europa League second favourite Napoli is ranked seventh in Italian Serie A and, while it could do with a UEFA Champions League pass, ranking seventh in what is, arguably, Europe’s fourth strongest domestic competition does not entitle it to being so high in betting markets.
Next in most UEFA Europa League betting lists is Liverpool, which frankly defies belief given how poorly the Reds have performed since Luis Suarez swapped Anfield for the Camp Nou. Then it is Internazionale, Everton and Tottenham.
Sevilla is available at odds of +1800 with Bwin, Villarreal is trading at odds of +2500 with BetVictor and Bilbao is on offer at odds of +3000 with 888sport and Unibet. Dutch the three Spanish sides left in the UEFA Europa League and one gets a three-pronged bet at odds of around the +710 mark.
Would you rather back Sevilla, Villarreal and Bilbao at odds of 8.10 or Liverpool at generally available odds of +1400 ? One thinks that the answer is that question is a no-brainer.
Sevilla, Villarreal and Bilbao have drawn Monchengladbach, Salzburg and Torino respectively in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. Each of the three Spanish Primera Division teams is odds on to reach the UEFA Europa League last 16.
Tips Summary (pre Group Stage)
Tips Summary (post Group Stage)
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