Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
After a gargantuan five-month wait, the Europa League finally returns to pitches and screens this week as part of UEFA’s summer festival of football.
The tournament, which resumes at the Last-16 stage on Wednesday evening, has a really open feel to it this year, with numerous clubs in a high-profile field of competition targeting continental silverware and a place in next season’s Champions League.
After the remaining Last 16 ties are settled this week, the real fun begins with the sudden-death, one off quarter final fixtures starting on August 10, before the teams are whittled down again in the semis ahead of the Europa League Final on August 23 in Cologne.
Below, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the favourites and dark horses for glory in our Europa League 2019/20 outright predictions and betting tips.
All quoted prices are with bet365, and you can get up to £100 in bet credits by signing up below (terms and conditions apply).
Europa League winners predictions
The favourites – Manchester United at 7/4
Unsurprisingly, Manchester United have been installed as 7/4 favourites to lift the Europa League trophy at the end of the month, though much of their hopes rest on how big a priority Ole Gunnar Solskjaer places on winning the competition.
Inspired by the arrival of Bruno Fernandes, United’s form since January since excellent, though they burned a huge amount of energy chasing down and eventually overtaking Leicester City and Chelsea to finish third in the Premier League.
Towards the end of the campaign, the rigours of playing so many fixtures inside a short space of time had a noticeable effect on performances, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be reluctant to field his star players in the Europe League with fears of burnout ahead of the new domestic campaign abound.
The Norwegian can however, rest his entire team for United’s Last 16 second leg tussle with LASK on Wednesday. Having hammered the Austrians 5-0 in the first tie before football’s postponement in March, the Red Devils can already start thinking about a quarter final against either FC Copenhagen or Istanbul Basaksehir next Monday.
Should United find a way past their Danish or Turkish quarter final opponents, a date with either Olympiakos or Premier League rivals Wolves awaits in the semis – and with the chance to finish his first full season with some silverware on offer, Solskjaer could yet opt to roll out his big guns.
If star players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba feature – and it’s a big if – then United will arguably wield the most talented team in the competition.
- Man Utd kept seven clean sheets in the nine Europa League matches they’ve played this season.
- Mason Greenwood scored five Europe League goals this term, hitting the net every 92 minutes on average.
- United hit four or more goals in three of their last four UEL fixtures (4-0 vs AZ, 5-0 vs Club Brugge, 5-0 vs LASK).
The contenders – Inter Milan at 9/2
While the long-term future of their outspoken coach Antonio Conte remains uncertain, in the short-term, Inter look one of the best equipped teams to end their Europa League campaign with a silver-lined flourish.
Conte’s highly-disciplined tactical approach looks readymade for winning knockout ties, and the Serie A runners up should be able to find a way to beat a talented Getafe team in their Last 16 assignment this week.
After that a quarter final meeting with Bayer Leverkusen almost certainly awaits, with the Germans, already 3-1 up against Rangers, favourites to finish the job in this week’s Last 16 second leg.
With Samir Handanovic in goal, Stefan de Vrij at centre half, Marcelo Brozovic in midfield and the prolific Romelu Lukaku up front, Inter have a solid, experienced spine, while players like Lautaro Martinez, Antonio Candreva, Nicolo Barella and rejuvinated looking Alexis Sanchez make up a talented support staff.
The uncertainty in the Inter dugout could still be a significant, chance-hampering factor however, with the situation involving an increasingly agitated Conte reaching boiling point.
- Inter won just two of their six Champions League group games last year before their elimination from the competition and arrival in the Europa League.
- Inter finished their domestic season by keeping five clean sheets in six Serie A games.
- Romelu Lukaku needs just one more goal to reach 30 for the season in all competitions for Inter.
The dark horses – Sevilla at 15/2
Having reached an incredible five finals in the last 15 years, and won the competition three times in the last six, Sevilla carry an incredible Europa League pedigree in the latter stages of this season’s iteration.
The La Liga outfit, who finished their campaign with an impressive 17-match unbeaten run in all competitions, are a defensively robust team who play a patient possession game – and that combination should make them very hard to beat.
The team’s lack of attacking thrust is still a problem that coach Julen Lopetegui is struggling to rectify however, and with much of their good play often let down by a lack of a killer touch, Sevilla drew 9 times during their unbeaten 17-game stretch.
Sevilla will need to lean heavily on their superb defence to progress to the Europa League final then, and the nine teams, including Barcelona, that failed to breach their backline since the end of February will attest to Los Nervionenses’ defensive expertise.
With any route to the final likely to include games against AS Roma, Wolves, Man Utd, Inter Milan – Sevilla will certainly have to do it the hard way, though their record in the competition suggests they are still good value at the prices quoted.
- Half of Munir El Haddadi’s 10 Sevilla goals this season were plundered in the Europa League.
- Sevilla collected more points (15) than any other team in the UEL Group Stage.
- Spanish second tier side Mirandes are one of only two teams to have scored more than two goals in a game against Sevilla in 2020. The other is Real Madrid.
Remember: we’ll have all the latest analysis and betting tips for every single match over on our Europa League predictions page.
The outsiders – Wolves at 7/1
Somewhat surprisingly priced outside the list of favourites, Nuno Espirito Santo’s formidable Wolves team are available at odds as long as 7/1 to win the Europa League this season.
Having missed out on continental qualification following a disappointing 7th place Premier League finish, Wanderers have one more shot at securing European football for 2020/21 through the Europa League.
With their tried and tested 3-5-2 formation and their immaculate injury and fitness record, Wolves won’t spring any surprises with their team selections, but with players like Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Adama Traore, Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez in tow, Wanderers have enough star quality to spring a shock or two in terms of results.
Wolves are expected to come through their Last 16 second leg tie against Olympiakos this week with a tough test against either Roma or Sevilla on the horizon should they earn a quarter final spot.
An all Premier League semi-final clash with Manchester United could arrive in the competition’s penultimate round, though Wanderers, unbeaten in five of their six meetings with United since their promotion in 2018, would fancy their chances of causing another upset.
- Diogo Jota is Wolves’ UEL top scorer this season with six goals. The Portuguese attacker has started just three times in the competition.
- Wolves failed to win any of their last three Europa League away assignments.
- Wolves have conceded just one goal at Molineux in the UEL proper this season.
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