This year’s Europa League features some of the best teams in Europe, and there’s a tweak to the format for bettors to adjust to when looking at the outright markets.
Who do Bettors Favor?
German team Borussia Dortmund are the big favorites for this year’s Europa League title, according to the best online sportsbooks. Dortmund are one of a number of teams dropping into this competition from the Champions League and they dominate the futures market. Barcelona, Sevilla and Atalanta also reached this competition by finishing third in their Champions League groups and they make up the top four in the betting, with Barcelona the most favored of the three at +800.
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Which Teams are in the Europa League Play Offs?
There has been a significant change to the way the Europa League knock out stages operate this year. The previous system saw the 12 Group winners and runners up progress to the Round of 32, along with the eight teams who finished third in their Champions League groups.
This time round, there are only eight Europa League groups. The eight Group winners go straight to the Round of 16, where they will be seeded, while the eight runners-up are drawn with the eight Champions League entrants in a play-off round ahead of the Round of 16.
This is a less favourable arrangement for teams that had previously been in the Champions League as they will now have to win an extra tie to reach the last 16, and for some, the draw has not been kind.
Which Team will Win the Europa League?
Barcelona’s recent struggles have seen a dramatic shift in the balance of power in European football and it wasn’t a major surprise that they slipped out of the Champions League at the first stage. They lost three of their six Group games, but if they were hoping for a relatively straightforward tie in the Europa League, they were disappointed, being drawn against Italian side Napoli.
The draw does neither side any favors, and it could pay to look elsewhere. Dortmund have a straightforward tie against Rangers and should easily progress to the last 16, but it remains to be seen how much they will prioritize this tournament as they will still have hopes of catching Bayern in the Bundesliga, and may use these games to rotate their squad.
So at bigger prices, Sevilla and Atalanta seem like better options. Sevilla’s recent record in this tournament is astonishing. They have won it six times since 2006, and under Julen Lopetugui, they are better than ever. Domestically, their strong form has taken them to second and with a winnable play off tie against Dinamo Zagreb, they look a team to keep on your side.
The same can be said of Atalanta. They have managed to punch above their weight for several seasons but their current campaign has been particularly memorable so far. They are on a six game winning streak in Serie A and although they dropped out of the Champions League, they could take some stopping in this weaker tournament, in which their strong away form gives them a big edge.
Which are the Underdogs to Look Out For?
As mentioned above, the top of the outright betting market is dominated by teams dropping down from the Champions League, but there is a notable exception.
West Ham are ranked fifth in the outright futures market, having topped their Group and although they lost their final game, against Zagreb, they had already qualified at that stage.
The Hammers have continued their strong domestic form this season and are once again competing in the top four, but given their resources, a serious Premier League or Champions League push is unlikely, so the Europa League takes on more importance. Their ability against the very top teams in Europe has not been tested but David Moyes’ side will relish being considered as underdogs, and unlike most of their rivals, will not have a play off game to play.
Which Nation will Win the Europa League
Teams from England or Spain have won the last 12 Europa League tournaments, but this time round things might be different. Sevilla are a solid contender, but Barcelona are out of sorts and facing a tough play-off tie, while Real Sociedad are drastically out of form. And for England, while West Ham may be a good underdog bet, they are the only remaining Premier League hopeful.
France already has two teams through to the last 16, while Germany can claim the favorites, Dortmund and Group A winners Bayer Leverkusen. But Italy are represented by three teams in the top ten of the betting market: Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio and so if you can find a Nation Winners’ Europa League market with your favorite sportsbook, Italy look like the nation to wager on.