Betting Preview for the 2021-22 Europa League – Odds and Top Contenders
This is going to be the 51st season of the UEFA Europa League, the continental club competition formerly known as the UEFA Cup. In terms of quality, popularity, and prize funds, the competition is second only to the Champions League, where European soccer is concerned.
The winner of the Europa League plays the Champions League the following season. What this means is that we’re not going to see the reigning champion playing in the 2021-22 season of the Europa League, at least not in the group stage.
However, Villarreal might make a comeback to this tournament in its knockout phase. Third-placed teams from each Champions League group are automatically granted an entry to the Europa League’s knockouts.
We still have no idea which teams will compete in the Europa League once the knockout phase kicks off. However, we do know which teams will feature in the group stage, the first round which starts on September 16, 2021.
There are 32 teams in the contest, and a couple stand out from the crowd in terms of player quality. Those teams are leading the way where the 2021-22 Europa League favorites are concerned, at least for the time being, until they’re joined by Champions League dropouts.
So, which teams are those? Let’s take a look at the biggest Europa League favorites in the section below.
Europa League Odds for 2021-22
If you’re wondering why the two main Europa League candidates are priced 15.00, it’s not because online soccer betting sites are feeling generous.
The reason why they’re giving such attractive odds is that there are another eight teams that will join the party after their Champions League adventure comes to an end.
As it often happens, those teams end up going very far in the Europa League. Last season, for example, we saw Manchester United coming from the Champions League and going all the way to the final of the Europa League.
A year before, Inter Milan did the same. In fact, 19 Champions League teams featured in 22 Europa League finals in the 21st century.
The bad news for Europa League teams is that history could repeat itself in the 2021-22 season. There are some tough Champions League groups this season.
Group B is probably the best example. Atletico, Liverpool, Porto, and AC Milan are jumbled together – one of those four will end up playing in the knockout stage of the 2021-22 Europa League.
On the other hand, there are already some pretty strong teams in the Europa League groups, which are already seen as strong title candidates. Let’s focus on those!
Top Europa League Contenders
The 2017-18 season was the last time a third-place Champions League team won the Europa League trophy. In the previous three installments of the tournament, the teams that started their campaign from the group stage won the trophy.
The same could easily happen for the fourth straight time. There are some really good teams playing in this year’s group stage. I’m now going to analyze the chances of some of the strongest favorites.
There is some good news for Napoli ahead of the 2021-22 season. First of all, COVID-19 is almost completely defeated in Italy. The fans will be able to return to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, their home venue.
Famous for being almost impossible to beat when playing in front of their supporters, Napoli needs to be thought of as one of the major favorites.
To illustrate my point, here’s an interesting fact – in the 2019-20 season (when COVID wasn’t a thing), Napoli didn’t lose a single game of the four Champions League that took place in Naples.
There’s bad news for Napoli ahead of the 2021-22 season. The Europa League draw didn’t do this team any service – the Sky Blues were put in a very tough group, together with Legia Warsaw, Spartak Moscow, and Leicester City.
In 2021-22, Leicester City is sharing the role of the top Europa League favorite with Napoli. Knowing that they like to cause shocking upsets, does this mean the Foxes are going to surprise the world by getting eliminated early on?
They might. It’s not because they’re bad, but because they might decide to focus on the domestic league. The Premier League looks very tough this year.
The Foxes probably aren’t going to have the luxury to focus too heavily on the Europa League. Instead of playing with their best XI each time, they might use their backups in the continental games.
Luckily for Leicester City, they have plenty of amazing players in the locker room. The big question is, are they amazing enough to win their first international trophy in the club’s history? To be honest, I’m not so sure.
Here’s a little history lesson – in 2017-18, Burnley finished seventh in the Premier League, thus booking a ticket to the Europa League Qualification in the 2018-19 season. What happened next?
Burnley played six qualifiers before getting knocked out of the competition. At the same time, they messed it up in the Premier League, eventually finishing just three spots above the relegation zone.
History teaches us that it’s always a bad idea to fight on two fronts, especially if you’re not among the world’s best. I’m not talking about Napoleon Bonaparte here; I’m talking about Burnley FC.
I’m afraid the same could happen to West Ham in 2021-22. The Hammers were brilliant last season, but playing in two extremely competitive tournaments could be too much for this team.
Lazio is still without a UEFA Cup/Europa League title in its trophy cabinet. The closest the team from the Italian capital came to winning one, was in 1998 when they lost in the final.
This season, however, their fans have many reasons to feel optimistic. Their squad looks really good, especially in the final third, where Ciro Immobile is once again expected to dominate.
What has to worry them is that they’re playing in Group E of the Europa League, which is among the toughest. They will have to face Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, and Galatasaray in the group phase.
Other Europa League Teams to Watch
Spanish teams have won the Europa League on 11 occasions since the start of the century. Sevilla is the most successful team in this competition, with a total of six trophies. Sevilla won all of them within the past 15 years.
Considering they’re playing in the Champions League this season, we might not see this team in its favorite tournament. Sevilla is favored to advance to the knockout stage of Europe’s elite competition, considering that its group seems very easy.
However, there’s one major reason why it wouldn’t be that bad if Sevilla ended up in the Europa League once again – the final of the tournament is played on Sevilla’s stadium, Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
Another Spanish team that starts its European campaign from the group stage of the Champions League is Villarreal, the team that won the Europa League last year. If the Yellow Submarine returns to this tourney, I can see them getting very far once again.
Keep an Eye on Galatasaray
When it comes to the dark horses that are already in the group stage of this competition, one team I’d pay attention to is Galatasaray. Although the Turkish team is priced 81.00, I think they mustn’t be underestimated, especially not when playing at home.
Galatasaray’s Turk Telekom Stadium holds the Guinness record for the “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium,” when the fans created a noise of 131.76 decibels. That’s the kind of noise a military jet aircraft creates while taking off.
Apart from having incredible home support, this team also has plenty of players with impressive pedigrees. Their captain, goalie Fernando Muslera, played for Lazio in the past.
Then, there’s also the former Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan, as well as Sofiane Feghouli, who had spent a season in West Ham before coming to Turkey.
Terim has dozens of accolades in his collection, including the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup, which he won with Galatasaray.
Betting on the Europa League in 2021-22
There is always a lot to take in when betting on soccer, and that’s the case if you want to bet on the Europa League in 2021-22.
Hopefully this Europa League betting preview gives you a head start with your betting, as I’ve gone over the latest odds, the top contenders, and a few other options to consider for the coming season.
There is more work to be done, of course. Be sure to brush up on your soccer betting research with this soccer betting guide.