- The Europa League returns on Thursday with the round of 32
- Several Champions League teams join the competition after being knocked out in the group stages of Europe’s most prized competition, such as Ajax and Inter Milan
- Who’s currently the best bet to lift the Europa League trophy this season?
It’s a busy week in Europe, with the Champions League and Europa League proceeding. While the UCL begins today, Europa action will start on Thursday, with all 32 teams slated to play.
Eight teams have joined the party after bowing out in the Champions League group stages, such as Inter Milan, Ajax, Club Brugge, and Red Bull Salzburg, among others. Arsenal has seen their Europa League Odds fade recently, going from +667 to +833 since the Round of 32 was announced.
Europa League Odds
Odds taken Feb 18.
Newcomers Ajax currently have odds to win it all at +750, while Serie A powerhouse Inter Milan, who abruptly dropped out of the Champions League round of 32, have the top odds to win the Europa League at +600, along with Man U and Sevilla. On average, Inter Milan’s odds have shortened from +800 to +717 and Ajax from +900 to +717 as well since December 16.
? Round of 32 draw ?
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) December 16, 2019
Can Arsenal Make a Run?
The Gunners have definitely improved their form under new boss Mikel Arteta, but they’re still a full six points off the top four in the Premier League. They haven’t lost since December 29th, winning four matches and drawing just as many. They will face Olympiakos in the round of 32, another side who joins the competition from the Champions League.
Even though Arsenal has improved, I don’t believe they can compete with the likes of Inter or Ajax in this competition. They should get past their Greek opponents and into the round of 16, but don’t expect to see them in the final again. Even teams such as Salzburg, Roma, or even Wolves pose a threat to Arsenal given their inconsistencies at times this term.
Ajax Seeking European Glory
Just a year after Ajax’s cinderella run to the Champions League Semifinals last year where they beat Real Madrid along the way, the Dutch side was surprisingly knocked out of the group stages this year, losing to Valencia on the last matchday. Now they head into the next best thing in the Europa League.
One week, two wins. Good job in cup and league, now @EuropaLeague focus ?!
— Nico Tagliafico (@nico_taglia) February 16, 2020
Erik ten Hag’s squad has been utterly dominant in the Eredivisie as per usual and will look to carry that form into European competition. Hakim Ziyech is Chelsea bound in the summer and there’s discussion that Ajax could lose a lot of their talent in the next transfer window. With that in mind, it will be a mission to fight for a European cup this year. Their first test won’t be easy by any means, taking on Getafe, who are currently third place in La Liga.
Is This Inter’s Year?
Inter meanwhile, are in the heart of an extremely vicious fight for the Serie A title right now. They’ve fluctuated between first and third place this season and after their loss to competitors Lazio over the weekend, Antonio Conte’s men are now three points off Juventus, who are in first.
By much disappointment, Inter exited the group stages of the Champions League in a very tough group, with Dortmund just edging them out. Conte voiced just how upset he was that his team didn’t advance in UCL play. Although Serie A is their main focus, they have a realistic shot of competing for a Europa League trophy. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez continue to bag goals at an alarming rate and with their first opponent being Bulgarian side Ludogorets, Inter shouldn’t have any issue easily advancing to the last 16.
This is the best squad they’ve had in a long time and with the addition of a world-class midfielder in Christian Eriksen, the Italian giants definitely have what it takes to compete with the Europa League’s best this year.
Inter is Best Bet
Manchester United have looked better lately, but I still don’t think they have enough to win the Europa, even though they currently have the best odds along with Inter and Sevilla. The Spanish side has been spectacular this year, currently tied for fourth in La Liga. They clash with Romanian side CFC Cluj in the round of 32 and should have no problem annihilating them.
I do think you’ll see both Sevilla and Man United deep in the competition, along with Ajax, but with Inter’s exhilarating form this year under Antonio Conte, he will lead them to a Europa League trophy and hopefully, a Serie A title as well.
Pick: Inter +600