Europa League: Best Bets for the Quarter finals

Sam Watt
By: Sam Watt
Europa League Draw

Europe’s second tier European tournament has whittled its numbers down to 16 but just because it plays second fiddle to its big brother the Champions League, it does not mean the action will be any less intense. Some heavyweight clubs across the continent are out to make a major impact.

So, who offers value as the tournament enters its latter stages and who may spring a surprise with no room for error as knockout club football reaches its peak?

Stick or twist with the English?

Chelsea and Arsenal have both progressed through to the quarter finals after wins over Kiev and Rennes respectively and both will have their eyes on the ultimate prize in May. Chelsea won the competition in 2013 and are currently the favourites to win the competition, being placed at 7/4 with Arsenal third favourites at 17/4. However, the Gunners will have a seriously tough task if they plan on winning the competition.

Unai Emery’s side will have to go through Carlo Ancelotti and Napoli to progress into the next round which is no mean feat considering Red Bull Salzburg failed to defeat the Italians in the last round. Arsenal have more quality than the Austrians but even they will find it incredibly difficult to work through this tie, with Arsenal priced at 23/20 and Napoli at 43/20.

Maurizio Sarri and his Chelsea side will come up against the conquerors of Sevilla Slavia Prague in the quarter finals and despite the heroics from the Czech club, Chelsea are clear favourites to advance from this one. A win for the Blues is at 3/4 from 888Sport and while Prague are not a team to stick your nose up at, they’re a long shot to win the first leg at 18/5.

While Chelsea look almost a certainty to advance into the final four it’ll be considerably tougher for Arsenal considering the strength of their opposition but what it does mean is that with two of the tournament favourites going up against one another, we could see a clear favourite emerge for the Europa League.

Or will Spain reign again?

While England still have two Premier League representatives, there is an all-La Liga tie in the form of Villarreal vs Valencia, with the second leg at the atmospheric Mestalla.

Valencia haven’t lifted the Europa League since 2004 under Rafa Benitez and Villarreal are yet to win to trophy but given the form of the two clubs in La Liga and the relative success of Spanish clubs in the Europa League in recent years, it seems like a slam dunk that one of these sides will be a threat in the semi finals.

Valencia are priced at 9/5 following their late heroics against Krasnodar in the last round and their domestic form is aiding their push for silverware too while Villarreal are more towards the relegation zone than they’d like, so they may see this as an unwelcome distraction, with 888Sport having them at 6/4.

Best of the rest

Reputation on the European stage will have Benfica as favourites against Eintracht Frankfurt at 5/4 but history has shown that Benfica and European tournaments don’t always go hand in hand thanks to the infamous Bela Guttman curs”, but the youthful exuberance of Frankfurt may see them win the first leg, which is at 43/20.

Outside tip?

Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt made the group stages look easy winning all six of their group games, including the double over Lazio and Marseille and a strong showing against Inter in the previous round. They’ll feel like they can take Benfica all the way in this tie and with Luka Jovic looking to prove a point against his former side, they could be real dark horses.

Eintracht can be backed at 11/1 for the outright tournament win and that is one of the best long-shot bets out there in the Europa League.

Sam Watt
By: Sam Watt

Football manager is my life, but have taken up writing to help put all that knowledge playing the game to good use. Follow me for all things European football and gain unexpected knowledge about players and teams you didn't know before. When not playing football manager, I take a break to play with my Sunday League team.

All Predictions by Sam Watt