The Europa League is starting to get a good reputation. The surprising additions of Manchester City and Manchester United in the competition last season certainly made it more attractive, if only for the short-term. However, with a number of Europe’s big clubs once again competing this coming season, it will help move the competition out of the shadow of the Champions League.
A Falcao-led Atletico Madrid were hugely impressive in the final last season. The club would undoubtedly not have got that far under previous manager Gregorio Manzano, but the introduction of Diego Simeone midway through the season helped to steady the ship. Under Simeone, the Atletico players were liberated from a manner of playing that seemed alien to them. They were allowed to express themselves on the pitch and work in a system that brought the best out of star striker Falcao.
The Colombian’s brace in the final was delivered in spectacular fashion, helping to truly make the competition all about Atletico’s new favourite son. It’s unlikely that the club will look to sell Falcao this summer, despite a host of admirers. But the services of Diego, who arrived on-loan last season, will look to be made permanent following the sale of young centre-back Alvaro Dominguez. Adrian Lopez is also an impressive side-kick for Falcao in the attack, while the club do have talent in other areas of the pitch. Atletico are 14/1 to retain the Europa League title.
Two big hitters from the Italian league are also set to feature in next season’s Europa League competition. Inter Milan’s horrid domestic campaign left them with little hope of qualifying for the Champions League, while Napoli’s impressive display last season has unfortunately left them one tier down and one man light from their outstanding attack.
Andrea Stramaccioni is the new man in charge of Inter Milan, replacing Claudio Ranieri toward the end of last season. However, the former youth coach will have a great deal of work to do if the club are to make a meaningful impact in Europe. At this stage it does appear that the goal is to get back amongst the top contenders in Serie A, but young Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho will be looking to make an impression on various stages. Coutinho had a successful loan spell at Espanyol last season, establishing himself in European football.
Meanwhile, Napoli’s star striker Edinson Cavani can be expected to be one of the stars of the tournament. Cavani has been one of Europe’s leading strikers over the past two seasons and will be looking to fire his side to the final in Amsterdam. However, despite their first XI, it remains to be seen whether Napoli have the depth to go all the way. European qualification next season will again be a priority, so it will be interesting to see if the club forces the issue of an unlikely cup victory.
Tottenham’s participation should also amount to more than what was offered by Harry Redknapp last season. The club was clearly looking to gain a strong foothold in the league and sacrificed European competition to do so. However, Andre Villas-Boas may be looking to recapture the trophy he won with Porto two seasons ago, and Tottenham could have a very realistic chance at glory.
They appear to be targeting the right players, while Villas-Boas’ youth and exuberance should take the club far in the competition. A strong source of goals is needed at White Hart Lane, but the Europa League may very much be there for the taking if Spurs play their cards right.
Athletic Bilbao are another club looking to repeat their appearance in last season’s final. Following a brief scare that Marcelo Bielsa would leave the club, everything now seems to be in order for the Argentine to continue his good work in the Basque country.
The club’s wonderful blend of youth and attacking instincts could once again prove to be the key to a deep run in the competition, while the club have also held firm that their star players would not leave unless an irresistible offer was made.
If Bilbao can continue their outstanding performances of last season, the club can be found at 20/1 to win the competition.
Europa League Betting Tips Advice:
Liverpool (16/1) are at similar odds to Tottenham (14/1), while Newcastle (25/1) can also continue their good form domestically and put together an exciting run in Europe. Alan Pardew’s side certainly have the talent and ambition. Their odds in the Europa League betting make for an attractive bet.
Our Tips: Back both Newcastle (25/1) & Tottenham (14/1) each-way.