The Europa League is set up a bit differently than the Champions League and instead of being filled with some of Europe's finest teams, it is instead seen as an opportunity for some of the lesser known sides around Europe to make a name for themselves, just like Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine did in 2009 when winning the trophy.
However, with teams dropping down from the UEFA Champions League after the group stages of the respective events, it has become harder for the smaller teams to win. The fact that you don't actually know who is going to be in it at that point, making a pre-tournament outright bet becomes very difficult. Even the qualified teams don't know what they will be facing down the line. It's often worth waiting till the Champions League drop-outs have entered to really size up the draw.
Take Your Pick
The UEFA Cup, or the Europa League as it's now known, is famous for producing surprise winners. Shakhtar Donetsk weren't touted as serious contenders, but they defied the odds to win in 2009. Sevilla and Middlesborough contested a rather one-sided final back in 2006 with Sevilla coming out on top in a surprising final line up while Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg surprised everyone when they came right out of the blue to snatch the final away from Scottish hopefuls Rangers in a dramatic final back in 2008.
Europa League Set Up
Qualifying for the group stages of the Europa League is a lot harder than some may think. For the superior nations around Europe like England and Spain, teams can go straight through to the Play-Offs. At this stage, they may have to compete against potentially a very tricky opponent in which they must win over two legs to book their place in the one of the main-draw groups.
Just like the Champions League, it is after the main group stage where the Europa League gets interesting. Not only will the sides who came through the groups now have to face one another, but they could also face a few of the teams who dropped out of the Champions League.
Europa League Outright and Match Betting
Unlike the Champions League, the outright market is wide open in terms of who the bookies think might win it. This is mainly down to the fact that the Champions League will field a few contenders once the groups are done and dusted. However, even with that in mind, the very beginning of the tournament is probably the best time to get on any side as their price will be very generous.
Generous yes, but risky too. There is such an unpredictability about the Europa League outright that being patient really is the best option. A team may be outright favourite at around 4/1 at the start of the group stage, but come the knockout stage and big teams from the Champions League enter, they could drift drastically out of favouritism. There's nothing wrong with an each way bet of course, or planning a betting strategy where you back more than one team in the outright market where you get enough returns from any winner to cover all the stake that has been paid out.
One of the other issues with Europa League betting is not being familiar with a lot of the teams involved. In the Champions League you see a lot of familiar faces, but there are so many unknown quantities from the smaller European nations in the mix, it's really hard to get an accurate read of the levels of quality.
UEFA Europa League Betting Advice
Player Availability - As with all football betting, keep up to date with news and team line-ups. Watch out for any suspensions which crop up, especially in the knockout stage, which can have a big effect on the outcome of ties.
Domestically preoccupied - Some clubs don't even take the Europa League all that seriously. It's a bit of a distraction to from trying to shoot for success on the domestic front. Even finishing high enough in a domestic league in order to qualify for the UEFA Champions League is more important for some than winning the Europa League.
Venues - Home advantage is crucial in Europe. Teams can face long trips across the continent just to play a match, which gets exhausting and poorly timed before the weekend's domestic action.
Away Goals - Remember that the knockout stage matches go over two legs and it can boil down to away goals. Away goals count for double once the last 16 commences so expect a lot of tactics involving goals scored away from home, because some teams are happy enough to try and play for drawn outcomes at this point.
Situation - The situation of a tie before kick off and during the game can have a big bearing on what happens. If a team turns up on the road trying to defend a 1-0 win, it's likely to be a low scoring affair. Follow games live in betting, because if a team goes 1-0 up in the second half of a second leg then you are going to see their tactics shift. Weight up the situation both pre-match and in-play.
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