Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
Ahead of the return of European football this week, readers of FST’s Back of the Net newsletter enjoyed a Champions League special on Monday which focused on the trends of winnings teams over the last 15 years.
Now, I turn my attention to the Europa League in an attempt to glean some useful information that may help us in picking out good value options in the outright markets.
Europa League winners trends
The arrival of the brand-new Europa Conference League leaves us with 24 teams to choose from at this stage of the Europa League and, while significantly down from the 32 teams of years gone by, this is still a tough field to choose from.
Here, I attempt to effectively eliminate teams based on the experiences of past winners. The data below is based on the last ten competitive fixtures before the first leg of that season’s Europa League-winning team’s Round of 32 tie:
Spaniards lead the way
The immediate takeaway is the sea of Spanish flags present – nine of the last 15 winners of the Europa League have hailed from Spain, with a further two beaten finalists adding to the number.
Add in English teams’ seven appearances – including five wins – in the Europa League final and almost a third of the last 30 finalists have been English or Spanish.
By contrast, a German team hasn’t won the competition since 1997 and haven’t hit the final since 2009. Italians are winless since 1999 and have only been in one final in the subsequent 22 years. There has never been a French winner and thrice-beaten finalists Marseille are the only French side to make the final since 1999.
Good form key to success – unless you’re Sevilla
When it comes to the Europa League winners’ form in February there are some useful nuggets of information, with the standouts being:
- 12 of the last 15 winners have picked up at least 15 points in the ten games prior to the return of the Europa League.
- On the remaining three occasions, six-time winners Sevilla won the competition in each year.
- The average number of points over these ten games was 18.13
- Nine of the last 15 winners lost fewer than three of the ten games preceding the Europa League Round of 32.
Champions League dropouts tend to go well
The Europa League knockout rounds also throw up a bit of extra interest in the form of the knocked-out Champions League teams, with the third-placed team from each Champions League group being demoted into the Europa League.
But how do they stack up upon entering Europe’s second-best tournament?
Pretty well, as it turns out: Four winners and some 13 finalists began the season in the Champions League, meaning an impressive 11% of Champions League dropouts make the final. By comparison, just 5% of finalists in this 15-year period began the campaign in the Europa League.
Europa League 2021/22 favourites
Let’s take a look at this year’s favourites and how they compare with previous winners:
Europa League-specialists Sevilla lead the way
With only three of the last 15 winners amassing fewer than 15 points I’m tempted to rule out Atalanta at this stage, while the three defeats suffered by Borussia Dortmund, West Ham and Bayer Leverkusen make them unattractive picks at these prices, too.
Thanks to the utter dominance of Spanish sides, Sevilla and Barcelona look the standout choices from the favourites.
Sevilla, the most decorated side in Europa League history, are particularly appealing, further backing them up as our outright winners tip. Four of their six triumphs have come in the last eight years, they are in excellent current form, they fit the bill as Champions League dropouts and, to add a nice cherry to the top of this red-and-white cake, the final is set to be played in their home stadium.
Value to be found in outsiders Porto
Porto, one of the three Champions League dropouts not included in this list of favourites, represent an interesting outsider option.
They have that status as a former Champions League team on their side, and they head into their tie with Lazio having won nine and drawn one of their last ten games. Not only that, but they were the last team outside of Spain or England to win the competition.
The Dragoes look excellent value at 25/1 and I’ll be backing them eachway along with Europa League-specialists Sevilla.
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