The Group Stage fixtures for the 2017-18 Europa League are all locked and loaded, so let’s take a moment to preview the tournament frontrunners.
AC Milan (7/1) are the clear favorites at the moment. The Italian giants spent a total of £210m over the transfer window in an attempt to reclaim their place among the European elite. Picking up players like Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci (€42 million), Porto striker André Silva (€38 million), and wing-back Andrea Conti (€25 million), AC Milan are well-equipped to end their streak of disappointing mid-table finishes and stand a great chance of winning their first ever Europa cup.
Despite a dismal 2016-17 and a rough start to the current season, Arsenal (10/1) still open as one of the favorites for the Europa League. On paper, they are undoubtedly the best team to qualify for the competition. Players like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, and Alexandre Lacazette are extremely over-qualified for the Europa League, but for whatever reason, Arsenal just can’t seem to get their act together.
Apart from AC Milan and Arsenal, there are a few clubs with an outside chance. As usual, Athletic Bilbao (16/1) stand among the favorites but due to their lack of individual talent, they’ve never been able to go all the way. Everton (16/1) had a tougher-than-expected time qualifying for Europa, but now that they’re in, they’re among the frontrunners as well. Eternal Europa contenders Villarreal (25/1) and Lyon (25/1) are, once again, promising long-odds picks.
We’ll have to wait until the Champions League Group Stage is over until a true favorite emerges, though. Five-time Europa winners Sevilla have a pretty clear path to the Round of 16 at the Champions League, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see them return to dominate. And last year’s Europa winners, Manchester United, need to mess up pretty badly to crash out of their Champions League group. But there are going to be some tough third-place finishers in a few stacked UCL groups, specifically:
Group C: Atletico, Chelsea, Roma
Group D: Barca, Juve, Sporting
Group G: RB Leipzig, Monaco, Porto
Group H: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Tottenham
Injecting any of these clubs into the knockout rounds of the Europa League will scramble the list of favorites. For now, here are our odds for the 2017-18 Europa League.
AC Milan: 7/1
Athletic Bilbao: 16/1
Photo credit: Stiendy (Wikimedia) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0]
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