UEFA Europa League

UEFA Europa League

Europa League Predictions & Preview - Can Sevilla sustain the pressure of being the favorite or would clubs like Man-U, Athletic Bilbao sweep the tournament?

Tournament winner betting odds

UEFA Europa League teams

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Europa League Sevilla will be many people's favourites for the Europa League having won the competition three years in a row (the Spanish side have started the campaign in the Champions League); all trio of titles were won under the leadership of cup specialist Unai Emery who has left the club to take over at Paris Saint-Germain, leaving Jorge Sampaoli coming in as his successor.

In the absence of Sevilla - although they will have a chance to defend their title again should they finish third in their Champions League group - Manchester United are the favourites with the bookmakers, with Sevilla's fellow LaLiga clubs Villarreal and Athletic Bilbao also well-backed.

Roma are also expected to perform well in the competition having surprisingly lost in the Champions League play-offs, with the Serie A side the most likely of the Italian teams to succeed.

The 2016/17 Europa League final will be held at the Friends Arena in Solna just to the north of Stockholm in front of a capacity crowd of 50,000 people on May 24 - but who is going to be competing in the first European final of the campaign?

Europa League 2016/17: Key Facts

The Europa League is already under way, with all of the teams having played their first round of group stage fixtures on September 15th, with the tournament favourites Manchester United having suffered a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Feyenoord in the opening match.

With 12 groups of four teams competing in this stage of the competition, there are a lot of clubs who will be hoping for a long run in this year's Europa League.

Only the top two in each group will go through to the next phase of the Europa League, with those 24 clubs being joined by the sides that exit the Champions League due to finishing in third place.

Europa League favourites

Manchester United With Jose Mourinho pledging to take the Europa League seriously, it is no surprise that Manchester United are the favourites in the odds at this stage of the competition, despite the fact they lost to Feyenoord in their first match.

Mourinho Mourinho named a strong team for that game - he had previously hinted he would blood young players in the tournament - but they went down to a defeat that was part of a three-match losing streak for the club, with odds of 7/1 on them to win the title not particularly good value.

United's other two opponents in the group, Zorya and Fenerbahce, are unlikely to pose too many problems and Mourinho's men should go through to the next round despite their poor start.

Roma More tempting in the odds are Roma, although it is likely Luciano Spalletti will prioritise success in Serie A over the Europa League. Roma could only draw with Viktoria Plzen in their first group match, but with moderate opposition to come in their remaining fixtures it is very likely that they will be in the next round of the competition..

Spanish teams have dominated both the Europa League and the Champions League and with Sevilla not yet having the chance to win a fourth straight title, attention falls on their LaLiga counterparts Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal.

The Yellow Submarine reached the semi-finals of the competition last year and will be determined to go a couple of steps better this time out and a narrow victory over Zurich got them off to a winning start in their campaign - Villarreal are offered by the bookmakers at 20/1.

For Athletic Bilbao, with title success out of the question in LaLiga due to the dominance of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the last few years, the Europa League might well be considered their best chance of success and they can be backed at around the 20/1 mark.

Another contender from Italy can be seen among the leading contenders according to the bookmakers, even though, like United, they lost their opening match of the campaign. Inter's 2-0 defeat to Israeli champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva got them off to a poor start, but their squad looks strong enough to compete in this tournament despite being off the pace in Serie A yet again.

Inter can also be backed at around the 20/1 mark to claim the Europa League title, with their fellow Serie A side Fiorentina also available at the same odds.

La Viola drew with PAOK in their first game but they are a solid outfit with plenty of goal threat, while a victory over Roma in the league recently shows they can compete with the bigger sides.

Europa League Dark Horses

Away from United, the only other representative of the Premier League in the Europa League this season is Southampton, who have had a mixed first few weeks of the season under their new coach Claude Puel, but won 3-0 against Sparta Prague at home in their first European game.

Charlie Austin Charlie Austin hit a brace and he is the joint top-goalscorer in the competition after the first round of fixtures, with the English forward likely to play a lot of the games in the tournament despite mainly being cover for Shane Long in the Premier League.

Southampton Southampton are at 28/1, which makes them one of the more intriguing teams in the betting for this competition, even though they have Inter in their group. Austin could also be worth considering in the top goalscorer markets for the tournament.

Also of interest as a potential dark horse in the betting are Feyenoord, who are at 66/1 in the betting despite the fact they have already beaten United, the pre-tournament favourites, in their first match of the competition.

Feyenoord Feyenoord are also flying in their league campaign, winning the first six games of the new Eredivisie campaign to sit pretty at the top of the table, with a 1-0 victory at title rivals PSV ensuring confidence and morale are both sky-high at the club.

Europa League Players to Watch

Although most of the stars of European football can be spotted playing in the Champions League rather than the Europa League, this is a competition where the stars of the future can often be seen in action for clubs before they move up a level to the bigger boys.

Mario Balotelli

A lot of attention will be on Nice to see how Mario Balotelli performs at his latest club. The Italy international striker has seen his career slide in the last few years after he broke onto the scene in fine style at Euro 2012, while his time at his most recent club Liverpool ended with the forward training with the club's youth team.

Balotelli hit a brace on his league debut for Nice and the early signs are positive that he can start to rebuild his career and get back on track, as he certainly has the ability to be one of the most dangerous strikers in Europe.

Antoine GriezmannAritz Aduriz is one of the most experienced strikers in the competition, with the Athletic Bilbao veteran on the back of the most successful individual campaign in his long career. The powerful target man is hugely dangerous in the air and he was the top goalscorer in the Europa League last season.

Schalke's hopes of success in the Europa League this season appear to rest on the shoulders of forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who could become only the 14th player to reach 50 goals in UEFA club competitions this year.

Zenit always have a crop of exciting Brazilians and this year is no different, with Giuliano one of the most intriguing players featuring in this year's Europa League.

Giuliano scored one goal and created three more as Zenit got off to a flying start with a thrilling 4-3 victory at Maccabi Tel Aviv in their first match of the group stage.

Romania international Nicolae Stanciu has been tipped for stardom and the Europa League is his chance to put himself in the shop window this season. The 23-year-old will be looking to star for Belgian outfit Anderlecht, while Villarreal will be looking towards Jonathan dos Santos, with the Mexican already having a goal and assist in this season's tournament.

Europa League Betting Tips

The Europa League is always a difficult competition to predict due to the influx of Champions League lucky losers after the group stage, as it will be unclear until December which teams are going to be in the knock-out rounds of the tournament.

But Feyenoord's price of 66/1 is certainly far too big considering their excellent start to the season and they could be one of the best each-way tips for the tournament.

Among the favourites, Villarreal's experience of going deep into the competition last season should stand them in good stead, despite them losing coach Marcelino on the eve of the new campaign, while the other LaLiga sides, Athletic Bilbao and Celta Vigo, may also thrive.

However, should Sevilla finish in third place in their Champions League group and be thrust into the Europa League's next phase as a result, it will be very tempting to back the cup specialists to win the tournament for an unprecedented fourth year in a row.

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