Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
The Europa League group stages begin on Thursday with Liverpool, Brighton and Europa Conference League holders West Ham representing the Premier League, and Rangers flying the flag for the Scottish Premiership.
One issue with picking an outright winner in the Europa League at this juncture is the fact that some teams from the Champions League drop down into this competition after the group stages. Each of the last four finals have included a team who were involved in the UCL earlier in the season but only one of the last five winners have started out in Europe’s top tournament, as Sevilla claimed the trophy on penalties last season.
There are some strong teams in this year’s crop of Europa League participants who clearly have the quality to go all the way even if some big guns do come into the tournament from the Champions League, and I’ve picked two outright winner options – a best bet and an each-way chance – as well as putting together a 187/1 group winners accumulator.
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Europa League 2023/24 outright predictions
Favourites Liverpool hard to ignore
Liverpool have been regulars in the Champions League under Jurgen Klopp but after an abject campaign last year by their standards they find themselves in the Europa League.
The Merseyside outfit are the clear 7/2 favourites and for good reason. After opening the campaign with a 1-1 draw with Chelsea, they’ve picked up four wins in a row in the Premier League and look ready to respond to last year’s poor showing.
This is the first time since the 2015-16 season that the Reds have been involved in the Europa League and that season they finished as the runners-up in Jurgen Klopp’s first campaign in charge. This is one of the few trophies that Klopp has failed to win during his time at Anfield and if they do take the competition seriously they look the team to beat.
One concern is this may be a low priority for Liverpool, particularly if they are involved in a title battle, but they have been handed a favourable group stage draw and should be able to reach the knockout phase even if Klopp does opt to rotate a bit – which means they look the best bet to win the tournament even at a relatively short price.
Leverkusen a good each-way option
At a bigger price, Bayer Leverkusen stand out as a potential each-way option given the way the German outfit have started the new Bundesliga campaign. Bayer’s form dipped towards the end of last year and they dropped out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage during that rough patch, and they may well make the next step and secure a final spot at least this year.
Xabi Alonso’s side are unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season and have claimed a win over RB Leipzig as well as a point at Bayern Munich, suggesting they can match anyone in Europe. Like Liverpool, Bayer have what looks a favourable group stage draw and reaching the next round should be fairly straightforward, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go deep in this competition again.
Europa League group stage accumulator
- West Ham to win Group A
- Marseille to win Group B
- Rangers to win Group C
- Sporting to win Group D
- Liverpool to win Group E
- Villarreal to win Group F
- Roma to win Group G
- Bayer Leverkusen to win Group H
West Ham finished top of a tough Europa Conference League group last season with a perfect record and should be fully focused on this competition.
Group B is arguably the toughest group on paper and Brighton are rated as the favourites, but Marseille appeal here due to their greater European experience.
The Europa League seems to suit Rangers and their formidable home record can see them spring a surprise and finish ahead of Real Betis in Group C, while Sporting get the nod ahead of Atalanta in Group D as the Italian side have made a mixed start to the new season.
Liverpool (E), Roma (G) and Bayer (H) look far too strong for their group rivals. This competition brings out the best in Spain’s Villarreal and the 2021 winners can finish above Rennes in Group F.
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