Last updated May 26th, 2021
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Europa League Final – Match Winner Odds
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Spurs & Man Utd Top Europa League Odds With Bookmakers
The field looks strong for the knockout rounds of the 2020-21 Europa League, with a sizeable group of potential winners headed by two teams from the Premier League, writes Nick Dorrington.
Only one of the 13 teams from the big five European leagues involved in the group stage failed to advance to the last 32. That set of squads has now been joined by those who have dropped down from the Champions League, including Manchester United and Ajax.
Given that at least one of the Europa League finalists in eight of the last 10 years has been a side who dropped out of the Champions League, including last year’s runners up Inter Milan, there is some sense to Man Utd almost topping the bookmakers’ Europa League odds ahead of the decisive rounds. Those final matches are currently scheduled to be played on a standard two-legged basis, circumstances permitting.
Man Utd have improved as the domestic season has gone on, perhaps even barging their way into the Premier League title race, and have performed well in their recent outings in the Europa League, reaching last year’s semi-final after lifting the trophy in 2016-17.
Their coach on that occasion was Jose Mourinho, now boss of current tournament favourites in the betting, Tottenham Hotspur. He is striving for a third success in the competition with a third different team, having also led Porto to glory in 2003. He has a good enough squad to give it a good go.
Decent arguments can be made in favour of both United and Spurs, although in reality there is little to separate them from a pack of teams behind who all have a broadly similar chance of going all the way. That group includes fellow English sides Arsenal and Leicester plus Spanish teams Real Sociedad and Villarreal. Also part of this powerful posse is Ajax, Italian entrants AC Milan, Napoli and Roma, and Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen.
Many of those teams are fighting for Champions League places or even league titles in their respective domestic leagues and it will be interesting to see how each elects to prioritise resources down the final stretch of this unusually hectic campaign.
To pick out a few names of interest, Villarreal made light work of the group stage and have a coach with a superb history in the competition on their bench. Things may not have eventually worked out for Unai Emery at Arsenal, but he won the Europa League three times in a row at Sevilla and was also a losing finalist during his time in North London.
Spanish teams have triumphed in 10 of the last 15 years and 11 of the last 17. While Sevilla remain in the Champions League, and so will not have the opportunity to defend their trophy, Real Sociedad also look a team capable of going all the way if their relatively small squad can handle the demands of multiple competitions.
It is necessary to go back until 1999 to find the last Italian winner (Parma), but Inter Milan broke the country’s run without a finalist in losing to Sevilla in last year’s final, and AC Milan, Napoli and Roma are all good sides capable of again making sure a Serie A team goes far.
Ajax were unable to make progress in the Champions League but have played dominant football domestically and have further invested in their squad in the January window.
Aside from that aforementioned group of teams, there are a few others who may not necessarily be likely winners but may certainly be good enough to take some scalps and put together deep runs.
Shakhtar Donetsk reached the last four last season and only narrowly missed out on progression from their Champions League group this time around. Slavia Prague have an interesting, front-foot play style, but face a tough first opponent in the form of Leicester. Lille are going well in France and are strong defensively. The winner of the last-32 clash between Olympiacos and PSV Eindhoven might also be one to watch from then on out.
A final word for Rangers, who did superbly to top their group ahead of Benfica, and have a good chance of reaching the last 16 thanks to a kind draw against Antwerp in the round of 32. Any further might be a stretch, as the available 40/1 in the bookies’ outright winner Europa League odds suggests, but Steven Gerrard’s side have nevertheless put together an impressive campaign.