UEFA Europa League 2018/19: Group Stage Odds and Preview
While the Europa League has traditionally been seen as a poor relation to the prestige Champions League, this competition has produced some thrilling football in recent seasons. For many, the tournament only really comes alive when eliminated teams drop down from the UCL and many of those sides, like Atletico Madrid last season, come through to win it.
We do, however, have some very strong clubs in the hat for the early groups so let’s take a look at where the outright markets stand right now and we’ll see if we can pick some value bets before the knockout stages kick in.
Teams to Beat
Two English sides lead the betting by some margin for the outright tournament win and it’s Chelsea who start as favourites at best odds of 6/1 with 10Bet and Unibet. Under new manager Maurizio Sarri, the Blues won all four of their opening league games prior to the first international break of 2018/19 and look set for a far more positive campaign.
Along the way, Chelsea beat Arsenal on the second Premier League weekend and it’s the Gunners who come next in the Europa League betting at a top price of 9/1 with SportingBet and 888Sport.
Of the two sides, Arsenal would certainly seem to have an easy passage into the next phase. Unai Emery’s men have been draw with Sporting Lisbon, FK Karabakh and Vorskla and the Gunners have very short best odds of 7/15 with Unibet to win that section.
For Chelsea, the path looks even more certain as the Blues are on offer at best odds of 1/6 with 888Sport to win a group that also contains PAOK Saloniki, BATE Borisov and Videoton.
We don’t seem to have found too much value so far so we’ll move quickly on and look at the next set of teams.
Behind those two English sides, Sevilla could be a tempting option at best odds of 18/1 with Unibet and 888Sport for the outright win, as could Bayer Leverkusen who are available at 22/1 with 10Bet and Sport Pesa. At the same 22/1 with the same two bookmakers are AC Milan so we really have some giants of European football in this tournament.
Moving further through the field, RB Leipzig are available at best odds of 25/1 with Unibet and 888Sport, while Lazio are also at 25/1 with Unibet and 10Bet.
Last season’s beaten finalists Marseille are listed at a top price of 33/1 with MarathonBet while other clubs to consider in this section include Sporting Lisbon at 50/1 with BetFred, Anderlecht at 66/1 with MarathonBet and Fenerbahce at 66/1 with 10Bet.
It’s a packed competition with 48 sides in the hat at this stage so how do we go about picking some winning bets?
As we’ve been mentioning, Europa League outright betting involves a step into the unknown to an extent because we don’t know which teams will be dropping down from the UCL prior to the knockouts. Few would have expected Atleti to have failed to qualify for the latter stages of the Champions League last season and once they joined the Europa, the strong Spanish unit were clear favourites.
We can, however, look at Group betting and with no fewer than twelve opening sections, there are lots to choose from. We’ve already covered Arsenal and Chelsea’s groups and we expect both English teams to win at prohibitive odds but there’s plenty of value elsewhere.
Moving through in order, Group A is led by a strong Bayer Leverkusen team who are available at short best odds of 4/11 with 10Bet to win it and we wouldn’t be looking beyond the favourites there.
In Group B, we think favourites RB Leipzig at 3/4 with Black Type may be vulnerable. The Germans rose through the leagues to make an impression on the Bundesliga two seasons ago but they’ve dipped since and may be under pressure from last season’s semi finalists RB Salzburg at 7/2 with Unibet.
But our first confirmed tip comes from Group C where Zenit St Petersburg are the favourites at 3/4 with SportingBet. Russian sides haven’t exactly been reliable in any form of European competition however so we’ll side with second favourites Bordeaux who are a value tip at a best of 7/2 with Betway.
Group D is the first section to feature odds against prices on all sides so it could be worth opting for favourites Fenerbahce at a top price of 11/8 with Betway although there will be a definite challenge from Anderlecht at a best of 7/4 with William Hill.
Group E is Arsenal’s section which we’ve already covered and moving on to Group F, AC Milan at 5/6 with Betway should also come through ahead of second favourites Real Betis. In Group G, Villarreal lead the way at best odds of 3/4 with Unibet but Group H is much tighter.
Here we have Lazio as favourites at 7/5 with 10Bet but there will be plenty of interest in last year’s beaten finalists Marseille at 7/4 with the same bookmaker.
Group I has Turkish side Besiktas in front at best odds of 6/5 with Betway while Group J should feature one of the safest bets of all as Sevilla are way in front at a top price of just 11/21 with 888Sport.
Group K is tight with Dynamo Kiev at best odds of 13/10 ahead of second favourites Rennes at a top price of 2/1 with Boylesports and then rounding everything off is Group L where we expect Chelsea to romp home.
It’s a brave bet to commit to any team in the outrights at this stage of the competition because we just don’t know who will be dropping down from the Champions League ahead of the knockout stages. Manchester United and Atletico Madrid, the two previous winners of the Europa League, both came in from the UCL so it makes a prediction even tougher.
There are, however, some excellent sides in this group stage and Chelsea do seem to be worthy favourites before a ball is kicked. Arsenal went all the way to the semis in 2017/18 and despite losing their first two league games of this campaign, they look a stronger unit under new coach Unai Emery.
Chelsea also have a new man in the dugout and Maurizio Sarri’s side clearly mean business after winning their first four league games under his stewardship. There’s a long way to go here but if pushed for an outright winner at this stage, recent Europa League champions Sevilla look exceptionally generous at 18/1.
The Spaniards are a different side to the one that took the title for three straight years from 2013/14 but they will be a danger and look undervalued at that 18/1 price. In the meantime, these group tips will hopefully lead to some early profits while we wait for the knockouts to get underway.
- Sevilla to win at 18/1 with Unibet
- Bordeaux to win Group C at 7/2 with Betway
- Fenerbahce to win Group D at 11/8 with Betway