UEFA Europa League Winner Prediction and Betting Pick for 2020/21
We all know that the Champions League is Europe’s premier club competition, but let’s not forget about the Europa League. Of course, the UCL hosts the continent’s top teams. But from a betting perspective, Europe’s secondary tournament is often far more lucrative.
The UEFA Europa League 2020/21 kicks off on Thursday, October 22. Sevilla beat Inter Milan 3-2 in a thrilling final last season, with the Spaniards clinching their fourth Europa League triumph in seven years. But who will get their hands on the trophy this time around?
I look at the bookies’ odds before giving my UEFA Europa League 2020/21 prediction and betting pick.
UEFA Europa League Winner Odds for 2020/21
Let’s begin by checking out the latest Europa League winner odds, courtesy of 10bet.
As expected, the bookies are backing the English teams this year. Indeed, three of the six favorites play their soccer in the EPL. Arsenal (7.00) and Tottenham (8.50) are the obvious frontrunners, with Leicester (19.00) also tipped to do well.
Serie A pair AC Milan (12.00) and Napoli (13.00) are high up on the list, while fellow Italians Roma (21.00) aren’t too far behind. Villarreal (17.00) and Sociedad (21.00) represent La Liga, with Bundesliga outfit Leverkusen (21.00) expected to fly the flag for Germany.
You only have to look at the bookies’ prices to see just how open this season’s Europa League is. Arsenal is the early favorite, but with odds of 7.00, the Gunners are by no means guaranteed to get their hands on the trophy.
Who Are the Top Contenders?
I assess the chances of this year’s Europa League favorites below.
Arsenal Begins as the Bookies’ Favorite
Despite ending up eighth last season and recording their lowest Premier League finish in 25 years, Arsenal scraped into the Europa League thanks to their FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea.
Interestingly, the Gunners were thrashed 4-1 by the Blues in the final of the 2018/19 Europa League. But having gained revenge over their London rival, Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal will be hoping to go one better this time around.
The club has made a number of high-profile signings, with Thomas Partey, Gabriel, and Willian coming in to strengthen the squad. However, keeping hold of star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was undoubtedly the best piece of business the club could have wished for.
It feels like Areta is gradually guiding Arsenal in the right direction again, and with the Gunners’ new-found strength in depth, I can see them competing on all fronts this season.
Can Mourinho Guide Tottenham to European Glory?
There is a sense that Jose Mourinho is finally beginning to make his mark on the Tottenham team. The Portuguese initially struggled to settle in North London, but his side has made a promising start to the 2020/21 campaign.
Spurs showed everyone what they are capable of before the international break with a crushing 6-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Granted, the Red Devils were particularly poor that day. But the manner with which Mourinho’s men brushed them aside was hugely impressive.
Harry Kane (3 goals, 6 assists) and Son Heung-min (6 goals, 1 assist) contributed a combined total of 16 goal involvements across the opening four EPL matchdays. Throw the returning Gareth Bale into the mix, and Tottenham’s forward line looks frightening.
26 – Son Heung-Min and Harry Kane have combined for 26 Premier League goals, the fifth-most of any duo in Premier League history and the most of any current duo. Wavelength. pic.twitter.com/obLz3WcMsg— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 4, 2020
But perhaps more importantly, Spurs’ defense feels stronger this term. New full-backs Matt Doherty and Sergio Reguilon provide options in the wide areas, while Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier seem to be forging a solid partnership in the middle.
Mourinho is renowned for winning silverware where he goes, so I don’t think anyone would be overly surprised if the self-proclaimed “Special One” ended Tottenham’s long wait for a trophy by securing the Europa League.
AC Milan Will be Eager to Impress
Only Real Madrid (13) has clinched more European Cup/Champions League titles than AC Milan (7). The Italian outfit has been a powerhouse on the European stage over the years, but in recent times, the Rossoneri has been stuck in the doldrums.
Milan is still a long way off challenging for the Serie A title. In fact, famous old club hasn’t finished higher than fifth in any of the previous seven seasons. But with the Europa League seemingly wide open this term, manager Stefano Pioli may view this tournament as his team’s best chance of silverware.
AC’s squad boasts an interesting blend of young stars and experienced veterans. Highly-rated midfielder Sandro Tonali is viewed as the next Andrea Pirlo, while 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic continues to score goals at a rapid rate.
It could be argued that Milan still has plenty of work to do before the club can return to their glory days. Still, a deep run in the Europa League could be what is needed to awaken the sleeping giant.
Is Napoli Strong Enough?
Napoli drops down in the Europa League this term, having competed in the Champions League in the previous four seasons. However, the Blues have never made it past the Round of 16 in the UCL, so they it’s fair to say they stand a better chance of success at this level.
The Italian side registered four straight top-three finishes in Serie A between 2015/16 and 2018/19, clinching the runner-up spot three times. But a below-par 2019/20 campaign saw Napoli finish seventh last season, four points behind AC Milan and 21 points behind champions Juventus.
It’s difficult to predict how Gennaro Gattuso’s men will fare this term. Domestically, they could not have dreamed of a better start. The team recorded back-to-back clean sheet victories in their opening two games, scoring eight goals along the way. But the real test will come against the division’s top sides.
The squad is definitely deep enough to compete in both Serie A and the Europa League. In Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli possesses one of the most sough-after center-backs in the game. Highly-rated forward Victor Osimhen also joined from Lille for €70m in the summer.
Needless to say, Napoli’s price of 13.00 is bound to attract plenty of attention.
Emery Gives Villarreal an Edge
Villarreal looked destined to secure a Champions League place last term. After the restart, the Spaniards picked up five wins in six games to propel themselves up the La Liga standings. But three defeats in their final five outings eventually saw the Castellon club finish fifth.
Still, I’m sure the Yellow Submarine will be more than happy to be competing in the Europa League again. The club has an excellent record in this competition, reaching the semi-finals in 2010/11 and 2015/16, as well as making it to the quarter-finals in 2018/19.
Following Javi Calleja’s departures, Villarreal now has a head coach who knows exactly what it takes to go all the way in this tournament. Unai Emery claimed three consecutive Europa League triumphs between 2013/14 and 2015/16 with Sevilla, and his know-how could be crucial.
The former PSG and Arsenal boss failed to make an impact in France and England, yet his record in charge of Spanish clubs is outstanding.
Can Leicester Upset the Odds Again?
Like Villarreal, Leicester should arguably be competing in the Champions League this season. The Foxes had all but secured third place in the EPL after losing just two of their opening 17 games, but a collapse in the second half of the season saw them finish fifth.
Nevertheless, I don’t think Brendan Rodgers’ side can have too many complaints. Leicester hasn’t competed in Europe since 2016/17, so the East Midlands club will surely be pleased to be back.
The Foxes may have lost Ben Chilwell to Chelsea, but they have also made a number of eye-catching signings. Defenders Wesley Fofana (€35m) and Timothy Castagne (€24m) have both come in for sizeable fees, with winger Cengiz Under joining from Roma on loan.
Jamie Vardy fired Leicester to Premier League glory back in 2015/16, and the veteran striker is still a huge threat. Indeed, the 33-year-old won the EPL Golden Boot last season, with many believing that he is better now than he was a few years ago.
⚽️ At 33, Jamie Vardy becomes the oldest player to win the @premierleague Golden Boot – previously Didier Drogba (32) in 2009-10— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) July 26, 2020
Harry Kane is the only other Englishman to be PL top scorer since 2000 pic.twitter.com/jpltWP7OZq
Rodgers’ team plays an exciting brand of attacking soccer. The Foxes have already thrashed Manchester City 5-2 this season, so you’d be foolish to write them off in the Europa League.
My Betting Pick
There are plenty of top-quality teams with sky-high prices this season. Bayer Leverkusen (21.00) and Roma (21.00) both have the potential to go far in this year’s tournament, while Benfica (29.00) is also very strong.
The three sides I just mentioned could be considered as promising longshots, but if you’re looking for a less risky bet, I recommend backing Tottenham.
Spurs reached the Champions League final in 2018/19, so they know what it takes to go deep into a European competition. The players will no doubt be desperate to make amends and get their hands on some silverware this time around.
If Tottenham is to succeed, then Jose Mourinho is surely the right man to guide the team. The two-time Champions League winner has won countless trophies throughout his illustrious managerial career, making him the perfect leader for Spurs’ Europa League push.
Tottenham’s squad now boasts strength in depth in every area, and the prospect of Bale linking up with Kane and Son makes Spurs’ odds of 8.50 seriously attractive.
Tottenham Hotspur to Win the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League8.50