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Europa League Outright 2015/16


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I always like betting on the Europa League outright markets around this stage of the season as there always is a good bit of value around. I came close in 2013/14 when I backed Benfica at 14/1 for the title before they came up against Tottenham but unfortunately they lost in the final to Sevilla after questionable round of penalties. Last season I didn't do so well as Villarreal were knocked out in the round of 16 but like I said before it's a market where I always believe there's value to be found.

Take a look at how far the Sevilla keeper is off his line in the 2013/14 final by the way. Not sure what the goal line officials were doing that day!

13 of the 20 finalists in the past 10 years have either been from Portugal or Spain. The Spanish have incredibly won the competition 6 times in the past ten years and the clubs from the Iberian peninsula clearly take the Europa League very seriously.

The sides at the top of the market are always no value what so ever and although things may differ with 5th place getting a Champions League spot it didn't appear to change anything last season. The fancied sides at this stage last year were Liverpool, Tottenham (two sides fancied every season), Roma and Wolfsburg yet they didn't get anywhere near to the title. Napoli got to the semis but lost to Dnipro. The year before Porto, Napoli and Tottenham were gone in the early stages and of the fancied sides only Juventus reached the semi finals. The competition always looks competitive but big sides are often knocked out at early stages and more often than not they come from the Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga. In these countries the league is priority and if you look at the the competitiveness of the Premier League and Serie A this season these sides are likely to prioritise league games over midweek cup games again. The market doesn't seem to take this into account though.

So the place to concentrate on is the sides from Spain and Portugal. Sevilla are the shortest of these sides at 16/1 and although Emery is a superb manager and they can match almost anyone on their home turf I just think they're that little bit weaker this time around. They're going to go all out to defend their title but I can't see them shortening up at this stage so it's worth waiting to see what path they'll have through the knockout rounds. Even if they're weaker this time around they're the best Spain has to offer and will be very competitive whoever they come up against.

Porto are second at 20/1. They've got fantastic players throughout the side but I feel the coach Julen Lopetegui is holding them back. They play a very rigid conservative style and this lack of movement makes them easy to defend against as anyone who saw them at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea would know. This lack of movement makes them rely on individual brilliance and they haven't improved at all under Lopetegui who has had plenty of time to impose his methods so I really doubt they'll be good enough.

Valencia are also 20/1 and although I was a massive fan of them last season issues in the boardroom have really disrupted their progress. I'm not sure the fans will ever get behind Neville and the relationship between the fans and the team looks broken at the moment. They probably won't back their team until Jorge Mendes and Perter Lim are out of the club and this has made it a really hostile environment for any team to perform. When you consider the age and inexperience of the squad it's going to be even harder to succeed in this environment and Neville's been given a really tough task.

I thought Villarreal were unlucky to meet Sevilla so early in the competition last season and they could be tough opposition this time as they can be hard to break down. Currently sitting 5th in La Liga they're having a good season but they seem to struggle going forward which could be their undoing. They haven't scored a lot of goals and are struggling in last place of the shots on target ranks in La Liga. For that reason Athletic Bilbao would probably be a better play at the prices and they're San Mames fortress is a great asset to have in knockout competition. They've got plenty of energy all around the park which will always make them a tough side to beat.

Braga are a side I like and I can see them causing some teams a few problems. They've got a very good young coach and some exciting young players but in the end they more than likely don't have the quality to win a competition like this. They did reach the final in 2011 though and this is the best side they've had since then.

Sporting just squeezed through to the knockout rounds after a rather fortuitous win over Besiktas. The Turkish side were on top most of the game but poor goalkeeping cost them when Sporting hit two quick goals half way through the second period and they never got back into it. Although Sporting just scraped through they were really the best team in the group with Jorge Jesus deciding to rest players in every round before today. That's the concern with him, he's likely to prioritise the league over European competition but lets not forget that he reached the final of this competition twice with Benfica and he made it clear today in his press conference that this competition like the league is very important to him. He also bought well in the summer and they have some nice depth this season so a bit of rotation is unlikely to make a significant difference to their chances in the league.

It's really hard to see how Sporting are 50/1 in the betting. Although the Portuguese league doesn't look as competitive this year Sporting have been the best side by in the country by a good margin yet Porto are only 20/1 and Braga who are 11 points behind in the league are also 50/1. They sit top of the league at the moment and crucially have hit their peak in the big games beating Benfica 3 times already this season including a 3-0 win away at Estadio da Luz. Whether they've got the quality of players to win is another story but Jorge Jesus has them playing very well and they're certainly not 50/1 shots.

Sporting @ 50/1 Bet365

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  • 1 month later...

Sporting has a big, big problem they are fighting for Portuguese League the title escapes them for 14 years, so it will be top priority.

They are in the top spot and have a tough calendar at this moment

As a Portuguese I think the germans will pass (Bayer and Dortmund).

Edited by foyar
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