The 2020-21 UEFA Europa League resumes on Thursday as the Round of 32 begins. A number of big names and former Champions League winners are in the knockout stages in what promises to be an entertaining conclusion between now and May’s final in Gdansk.
Four Premier League sides remain in the competition and all are away from home for their first leg as a result of winning their respective groups. The bookmakers are heavily favouring an English side to lift the trophy at the end of the current campaign.
Manchester United are the favourites
Manchester United are in Spain to take on Real Sociedad who are flying high in La Liga again this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been made favourites to win the competition outright this season, with www.betting24.dk finding odds of 13/2 – the best price around. With the Premier League title race all but over the Norwegian manager may switch his focus to this competition for the remainder of the season, looking to improve on last season’s semi-final exit.
Real Sociedad won’t make it easy for the Red Devils though – they conceded just four goals in their six group matches, which included matches against Internazionale and AZ Alkmaar. They have also held Real Madrid to a 0-0 draw this season. But we think the Premier League side will progress from this tie.
Spurs have an easier test
Tottenham Hotspur have arguably been handed the easiest matchup of the four Premier League sides in the Round of 32 as they are in Austria this week to face Wolfsberger AC. The club are only in their second-ever Europa League campaign, after being knocked out at the group stage last season but did finish above Feyenoord and CSKA Moscow to get this far.
Carlos Vinicius has excelled in this tournament so far, and with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min also available it could be Spurs’ year to finally get their hands on some silverware again.
Jose Mourinho’s side are short odds to progress from this tie and are among many football accumulator tips as a result. They are also 7/1 second-favourites to win the 2020-21 Europa League.
Arsenal’s best route to Champions League?
Arsenal’s inconsistencies domestically see them down in 10th place in the Premier League, eight points outside of the Champions League places with 14 games to go. Perhaps Mikel Arteta’s best chance to get his side back into Europe’s elite club competition is by winning the Europa League.
10/1 third favourites to go all the way, their first knockout tie is against Benfica, which should be easier than it sounds. That’s because the Portuguese giants have won just two of their eight league games since the turn of the year, and look very out of character.
Down in fourth in the Primeira Liga, Jorge Jesus’ side are really missing the likes of Ruben Dias, Carlos Vinicius, Ljubomir Fejsa and Ferro this season. The Gunners shouldn’t face any slip ups this week.
Don’t overlook Leicester
Leicester City are flying in the Premier League currently and are in a strong position to qualify for next season’s Champions League. They should also not be overlooked for lifting their first European trophy either.
Brendan Rodgers’ side breezed through the group stage and have been handed a favourable second round tie up against Slavia Prague.
The Foxes have a number of goalscorers from midfield to support Jamie Vardy in attack and have been strong defensively of late. A recent 3-1 win over Premier League champions Liverpool shows what they’re capable of.
Leicester are currently 14/1 to win this season’s Europa League.
Best of the Rest
AC Milan are 12/1 fourth favourites to win the competition and the only non-English side in the bookmakers’ top five in terms of odds.
The Italian giants are in the Serie A title race for the first time in years so don’t expect them to take this competition too seriously if they’re still neck-and-neck with rivals Inter over the coming months.
A trip to Red Star Belgrade is on the card for Milan this week in a tie they are widely expected to progress from.
Napoli are hanging onto a thread in terms of the Serie A title race this season so it will be interesting to see how serious they take the remaining stages of the Europa League. They face La Liga side Granada this week.
German Bundesliga sides haven’t had much success in this competition in recent years so don’t be surprised if Bayer 04 Leverkusen and 1899 Hoffenheim don’t go much further. Matchups versus Young Boys and Molde should at least see them progress past this stage though.
Ajax face Lille, Villarreal take on Red Bull Salzburg and AS Roma are up against SC Braga in matchups that could provide a lot of entertainment, whilst Steven Gerrard’s Rangers FC are worth keeping an eye on, away to Antwerp on Thursday.