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UEFA Europa League Group I Betting Preview & Odds: Wolfsburg and St Etienne Well Fancied

Gary Gowers

by Gary Gowers in Soccer News

Updated Mar 30, 2020 · 11:38 AM PDT

Wolfsburg is the early betting favorite in Group I of Europa League qualifying. hoto from @VfLWolfsburg_US (Twitter).
  • New Europa League group stages about to begin
  • Wolfsburg and St Etienne favorites to qualify
  • Gent a fair bet as outsiders

The Europa League 2019-20 group stage kicks into gear next week and at SBD we are going to look at each group with the aim of identifying if the favorite worth a bet or if there is upset potential within the group. We’ll look to see which two teams we think will qualify and who offers the best value.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20 – Group I Odds

Team Odds to Qualify Odds to Win Group
Wolfsburg -333 +100
St Etienne -225 +190
Gent +110 +425
PFC Oleksandria +350 +1400

*Odds taken on 09/12/19

The big two here are Wolfsburg and St Etienne and both are odds on to qualify for the knockout phase, but Gent are also well worth closer look.

Wolfsburg Should Advance

Wolfsburg’s sixth place in last season’s Bundesliga has earned them a crack at this season’s Europa League, and they look in good shape to progress to the knockout stages.

They were late starters in European soccer with their first experience being in 1999 when, again, their sixth place in the German top flight earned them entry into the old UEFA Cup. In that season, they went out in the third round against Atlético Madrid.

In the 2008–09 season, they won their first Bundesliga title and so qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history. They came third in their group, behind Manchester United and CSKA Moscow, and so while missing out on the tournament’s knockout phase, they qualified for the round-of-32  in the UEFA Europa League where they made it to the quarterfinals – losing eventually to the eventual finalists Fulham.

Their best performance in Europe was during the 2015–16 season, when they reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

They have made a good start to the new Bundesliga season with two wins and two draws and look to be well balanced and in good shape. I expect them to qualify for the knockout phase.

St Etienne Trying to Relive Past Success

St Etienne is a club looking to rediscover their glory days. They have won a record ten Ligue 1 titles, six Coupe de France titles, a Coupe de la Ligue title and five Trophée des Champions.  However, most of these honours were won in the 1960s and 1970s and in recent years the club has endured some dark days.

Their best finish in the 21st century was a fifth-place finish in Ligue 1 in the 2007–08 season, which saw them qualify for the UEFA Cup for the first time since 1982.

Recent seasons have seen them become a middle-of-the-table type team in Ligue 1 but they had a turbulent 2017-18 , which saw some poor results and a change in manager, with Jean-Louis Gasset arriving at the club to provide some stability. And it worked.

2018/2019 was a better season for them, and they enjoyed a good campaign that culminated in a fourth place finish, which in turn earned them their place in the Europa League. At the end of the season Gasset resigned and was replaced by Ghislain Printant.

It’s been a tricky summer for Printant though who has seen two of his star players sold for big money, but they still look competitve despite a mixed start to their Ligie 1 campaign. They will find themselves under pressure from Gent.

Gent Provides Value

Gent has never been in the group of elite teams in the Belgian league but it’s a club that has enjoyed success and are deserving of their crack at this season’s Europa League. They earned it the hard way by just squeezing Anderlecht out of the battle for fifth place. They were also runners-up in the 2018-19 Belgian Cup.

It’s been a mixed last few decades for the club though, having finally reached the elite level in 1989 after enduring several promotions and relegations between the first and second divisions in the 1970s and 1980s. In terms of Europe, their best performance was in  1992  when they reached the quarter-finals of the 1991–92 UEFA Cup.

Gent won the Belgian title in 2014–15 for the one and only time but have won the Belgian Cup three times, the most recent in 2009–10.

They negotiated two qualifying rounds to get to the Europa League group stage, and will be fighting St Etienne hard for that second spot. On that basis +110 for a qualifying spot is decent value.

PFC Oleksandria in Tough

PFC are a Ukrainian professional football club based in the city of Oleksandriya, Kirovohrad Oblast, who ply their trade in the Ukrainian Premier League.

In the 2015–16 season, PFC finished 6th in the Premier League – their best achievement in the Ukrainian top flight – and for the first time ever qualified for the third qualifying round of UEFA Europa League. They repeated the feat the following season and went one better by winning their first qualifier.

Season 2018-19 was their best ever and they earned a direct route to the Europa League group stages with a very creditable third place. They are, however, outsiders for a reason.

My pick: Wolfsburg to win the group (+100), Gent to qualify (+110)

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