RB Leipzig have earned a bye to the Europa League quarter finals and that gives them the edge in the tournament futures market
Who do Bettors Favor?
Barcelona are the biggest team remaining in the tournament, and not surprisingly, the best online sportsbook sites rate them as the favorites to win the whole thing at around +250. RB Leipzig are available at +450 with Sevilla and Atalanta not far behind. The remainder of the contenders are priced at +1000 or higher, including Monaco, West Ham United and Lyon.
|Europa League winner|
|West Ham United||+1400|
Halfway to the Quarters: Europa League Review
The first leg fixtures of the Round of 16 are complete and 15 of the teams are still technically in the tournament, though some are clinging on and others are going strong.
The sanctions imposed on Russian teams means that Spartak Moscow are out of the competition, allowing RB Leipzig to go through. Of the rest, Rangers look to be in the strongest position, having secured a 3-0 first-leg win over Red Star Belgrade. Braga’s 2-0 home win against Monaco also gives them a big advantage, while Eintracht Frankfurt will be pleased with their 2-1 win at Real Betis.
Lyon, Sevilla and Atalanta all hold narrow one-goal leads from the first leg, while the surprise result of the first leg games was Barcelona’s 0-0 home draw with Galatasary, which leaves the Spanish giants plenty of work to do in the second leg.
Europa League Main Contenders
Barcelona are still the favorites in the Europa League betting markets, but those who’d wagered on them ahead of the Round of 16 may be feeling a little nervous after their disappointing first leg performance against Galatasaray. Barca had 14 shots on goal compared to Galatasaray’s three, but the visitors defended well and the second leg trip to Turkey will not be easy for Xavi’s men.
Fellow Spanish side Sevilla are in a slightly stronger position, having earned a 1-0 win over West Ham in their first-leg game, but they also face a difficult second leg trip and will have to work hard to secure their passage at the London Stadium on March 17. Italian side Atalanta will also be faced with a stiff challenge as they take a narrow 3-2 lead to Bayer Leverkusen.
One team that won’t be worrying about progressing to the quarter finals is RB Leipzig. The sports sanctions imposed on Russia means that they’ve earned a bye so instead of a potentially tricky two-leg tie against Spartak Moscow, the Bundesliga side can look forward to being in the last eight draw. The German team are involved in a four-way battle for European places domestically, but they are also in a solid position in that contest, and they are worth wagering on in the Europa League outright market.
Underdog Picks for the Europa League
Given their strong performance in the first leg against Red Star Belgrade, which ought to be enough to carry them through to the quarter-finals, Rangers might look like a value wager at their current odds.
However, bettors looking for a Europa League option at a big price should be wary of putting their faith in the team from Glasgow. Though they are the reigning Scottish champions, that competition is essentially a two-horse race, and they are currently losing this year’s domestic contest to city rivals Celtic. They could progress given a favorable draw, but sooner or later they will come up against one of the big guns and that will be the end of their tournament.
Fellow UK team West Ham United may also have their supporters and they certainly have plenty to play for with home advantage in their second leg against Sevilla. But the West Ham squad is not one of the strongest in the tournament and they are also currently locked in a fierce domestic battle in the Premier League so they don’t look an attractive betting option at their current price.
If you’re looking for a relative underdog at a good price, Lyon could be the answer. The French club are struggling domestically but that hasn’t hampered them in European competition and their 1-0 first-leg win against Porto puts them in a strong position with the second leg being played in France.
The other aspect in their favor is that they are a long way short of the European qualification places in Ligue 1, and winning the Europa League currently looks their best chance of getting into the Champions League next season. The club also has a reasonable record in this competition, having reached the quarter-finals and semi-finals within the last decade. At their current odds, they could be a smart pick.
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