Betting on the winner of the UEFA Europa League before the UEFA Champions League rejects enter the competition is not a smart strategy and nor is taking short prices about teams winning pools in the group stage of the tournament.
UEFA officials may not want to hear it but the fact is that some sides do not take the UEFA Europa League seriously and playing games on Thursdays does the competition no favours. There is a reason why Spanish teams have won five of the last seven UEFA Europa League finals – Atletico Madrid and Sevilla did not fancy their respective chances of claiming Spanish Primera Division honours so they focused on Europe whereas many of their continental opponents were aiming for domestic glory. Therefore, one is reluctant to get stuck into high-profile sides in UEFA Europa League markets.
One flicked through the many UEFA Europa League group odds looking for short-priced teams to oppose. Yes, one knows that the UEFA Europa League has been a Spanish benefit in recent seasons but one cannot have Athletic at such short odds to win Group F. Sassuolo is the UEFA Europa League Group F value wager at odds of +400 with Betfred.
On paper, Sassuolo has lost each of its last two Italian Serie A matches but the Black and Greens defeated Pescara 2-1 before being ruled to have fielded an ineligible player and they were without their best forward, Domenico Berardi, when losing 1-3 at championship favourite Juventus. Sassuolo is committed to making a splash in its first-ever European campaign and, therefore, one expects that the Black and Greens will treat the UEFA Europa League with respect. Sassuolo had to negotiate two rounds to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage, eliminating Luzern and Crvena Zvezda thanks to 3-0 home victories and 1-1 away draws.
One can accept that Athletic merits UEFA Europa League Group F favouritism but the Lions were dreadful in losing their Spanish Primera Division opener 1-2 at Gijon and their continental campaign kicks off at Sassuolo. UEFA Europe League Group F’s other two sides are Genk and Rapid Wien, neither of which one rates anywhere near close to Sassuolo.
One has doubts about both of the teams that bookmakers have as the likely UEFA Europa League knockout stage qualifiers from Group K – Internazionale and Southampton – so one is willing to take a punt on Sparta Praha at odds of +650 with several bookmakers, including 888Sport and Betfred.
Internazionale coach Frank de Boer does not appear to know his strongest side and the Black and Blues were heading for yet another dismal Italian Serie A result until Mauro Icardi scored two goals in the final 15 minutes at Pescara last time out. Southampton has only two points to show for its efforts in the first four English Premier League rounds as another new boss, Claude Puel, finds himself managing a Saints squad that has lost one too many star players.
Sparta Praha has been a regular on the European scene for years, it scores freely at home and on its travels and it has not lost any of its last seven games across domestic and continental competitions. Bet365 has Sparta as low as odds of +400 to win UEFA Europa League Group K and, if one was a bookmaker, one would be looking to lay Internazionale and Southampton. Hapoel Beer-Sheva completes the section.
Sassuolo to Win Group F
Europa League 2016/17
Sparta Prague to Win Group K
Europa League 2016/17
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