With the 2017/18 Europa League groups now drawn, bettors have a clearer path to predicting who will win Europe’s second-tier competition. But where is the value in Pinnacle’s outright Europa League betting? This article examines the favourites and outsiders among the Europa League winner odds, as well as the impact of the Champions League.
The Europa League is a European soccer tournament often disregarded by the biggest clubs. However, it now offers the event winner a place in the far more prestigious Champions League. As such, many of the competition’s big contenders will want to replicate last season’s victors Manchester United.
Historically speaking, the Europa League has produced seven different winners in the last 10 years – but Sevilla did win the competition three times in a row before last season. Nine of the last 10 winners, meanwhile, are playing in the Champions League this year. We could therefore be in for a very open tournament in 2017/18.
Europa League Winner odds: The favourites
Ironically, Arsenal’s biggest inspiration ahead of their Europa League campaign is the success of rivals Manchester United last term. The Premier League giants started at 4.88 to win last season’s tournament and their price only shortened from there. They eventually succeeded without too much difficulty, earning themselves a place in this year’s Champions League in the process.
The Europa League is often disregarded by the biggest clubs. However, with the victor offered a place in the Champions League, teams will want to replicate last season’s winners Manchester United.
For Arsenal, however, things are rarely straightforward in Europe. The Gunners have never won the Champions League or Europa League (previously named the Uefa Cup), losing a final in each – first to Galatasaray in 2000 and then to Barcelona in 2006. Their recent Champions League record, meanwhile, is woeful. It could be argued that Arsene Wenger has become a victim of sunk costs in recent years.
Arsenal have recruited Alexandre Lacazette this summer but have otherwise failed to address their notable squad issues. There are also question marks over how Alexis Sanchez will perform after trying so hard to leave the club in August. Nevertheless, Arsenal are a club of great stature and rich tradition - and are 8.00* to win the Europa League.
Favourites to win the competition, AC Milan provide bettors with somewhat of an unknown quantity. While they finished sixth in Serie A last season, their current squad is almost unrecogniseable. I Rossoneri were fourth on the list of biggest-spending clubs in the top five leagues in European soccer this summer (€190.5m) and second when it comes to net spend (€178.3m).
Among the new recruits this investment has attracted are Nikola Kalinic, Ricardo Rodriguez, Mateo Musacchio, Andre Silva and, most notably, Leonardo Bonucci – who left Serie A champions and Champions League finalists Juventus to join Milan. The club have also pulled off a vital deal in persuading 18-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – one of the finest prospects in Europe – to stay.
Like Arsenal, though, AC Milan’s history presents very little Europa League data. This is because they have been so successful in the Champions League and not played anywhere near as much in Europe’s second-tier competition. Bettors may want to see if Milan’s Serie A form improves as a result of their transfer business before judging their Europa League chances.
You can bet on AC Milan to win the Europa League outright at 7.00* in the Europa League winner odds.
Lazio were 18.33 before the group-stage draw but have now drifted significantly to 41.00*. The Italian side have some pedigree, winning Serie A in 2000 and the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999. Simone Inzaghi’s men also reached the Coppa Italia final last season, secured a respectable fifth-place finish in the league and beat Juventus in the Supercoppa Italiania.
But, in terms of their Europa League history, Lazio’s quarter-final run in 2013 is the most they can boast in recent years. Added to that, the Serie A outfit have just lost Keita Balde to Monaco – the winger scored 16 times in the league last year. Former Manchester United winger Nani is his replacement.
Everton enter their Europa League campaign in a similar situation to AC Milan. Ronald Koeman’s debut year was an encouraging one as the Toffees finished seventh in the Premier League. And, following sizeable investment, there may be hope of achieving even more this term – despite losing top scorer Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United.
Arsenal are 8.00* to win the Europa League, while Everton are currently priced at 26.00* in the outright market.
Summer spending has brought the likes of Wayne Rooney (a Champions League winner), Davy Klaassen (a Europa League finalist last season), Jordan Pickford, Sandro Ramirez, Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson to Goodison Park. As such, Everton will be hoping for a strong run in Europe this term – and they looked very solid in qualifying.
Everton possess a 56.52% win rate in the Europa League and reached the last 16 under Roberto Martinez in 2015. They are currently priced at 26.00* in the Europa League winner odds.
Athletic Bilbao have a history of relative success in the Europa League, reaching the quarter-finals two seasons ago and finishing runners up in 2012.
Yet, with no notable signings made this summer and memories of their defeat to APOEL in the last 32 last term, it appears Athletic Bilbao are priced above 20.00 for a reason. At the time of writing, Athletic Bilbao are 26.00* to win the Europa League.
Also priced 26.00* are Villarreal, a side who have finished in La Liga’s top six for the past four years. The Spanish outfit have pedigree, reaching the Europa League semi-finals two seasons ago. Villareal have signed Carlos Bacca this summer, a double Europa League winner, also adding Sporting Lisbon defender Ruben Semedo to their ranks.
However, their 4-1 aggregate defeat to Roma in last season’s last 32 will not necessarily encourage bettors that they can go all the way this time around.
Europa League Winner odds: The outsiders
A side regularly mentioned with regards to Europa League outright betting are Lyon. The Ligue 1 club are 26.00* to go all the way but will have to do so without Alexandre Lacazette, Corentin Tolisso and Emanuel Mammana – big-money summer departures. Meanwhile, Marseille have moved from 33.76 to 26.00* following the group-stage draw.
Whoever the current favourite is, there is an essential factor for bettors to consider: those that finish third in their Champions League groups will drop into the Europa League knockout stages.
Bettors could have found Real Sociedad at the same price before the draw. But Sociedad, who recruited Diego Llorente and Adnan Januzaj this summer, are now 51.00*. In the same group, previous champions Zenit St Petersburg are 41.00*. At the time of writing, Roberto Mancini’s men are top of the Russian Premier League and unbeaten in eight league matches.
Hoffenheim (41.00*) are another potential candidate for the outright trophy, having finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season (with the second-best defensive record). Liverpool proved a step too far for them in the Champions League play-offs but the Germans look more than capable of a Europa League run.
Outright Europa League betting: Champions League teams
Whoever the current favourite is, though, there is an essential factor for bettors to consider. Indeed, those that finish third in their Champions League groups will drop into the Europa League knockout stages. Seven of the last 18 Europa League winners have been such teams – which translates to 38.39% and includes the likes of Sevilla, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.
It could therefore be beneficial to keep an eye on Champions League performances, potentially forecasting which teams could finish third and thus feature in the Europa League betting later in the competition. The biggest example is Group H, which contains Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham. Group C is another, containing Chelsea, Atletico and Roma, while Group F has Manchester City, Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk.