Europa League 2016/17: The best teams and biggest bets this season

September 14, 2016

The Europa League kicks off in September with 48 teams competing in the group stage.

This is commonly known as the secondary tournament to big brother the Champions League.

But UEFA and many of the clubs involved take the Europa League very seriously — and you should too!

Here at Unibet we’re hosting odds on every game live in our award-winning sportsbook, so you can follow the likes of Manchester United, Ajax and Roma with ease from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Wading through all the participating teams looking for those big Europa League bets can be tricky. So we’ve done the job for you! Here are four big bets to make on the Europa League this season.

Manchester United favourites to win… but don’t back them

Manchester United are 6.50 early favourites to win the Europa League. Now, on the face of it that is a very good price. United have a superb team this season and one of the world’s best managers in Jose Mourinho. They have also invested heavily in the squad, with Paul Pogba becoming the world’s most expensive player when joining from Juve for over €100million.

But United will not win the Europa League. Mourinho’s remit is to win the Premier League and qualify for next season’s Champions League. He will likely rotate members of his squad on Thursday nights in order to manage the workload and while United are expected to get through their group they will probably not advance to the final.

Put simply, to win the Europa League you must focus on it. That is why Sevilla have been so successful in recent years. They have piled all their resources into the Europa League and it’s paid off. Unfortunately for United they will likely be battling on too many fronts come February and March, meaning Mourinho will probably ditch Europe.

Bilbao in a great position to win

United’s problem is that they could be challenging for the title this season, which means Europe is a second priority. That is the same for Italian clubs Inter Milan and Roma, who are both second-favourites at 16.00 to win the competition.

The Serie A duo are likely to succeed the title to Juve but they will be right up there challenging for the three Champions League spots on offer in Italy. Assuming both these sides are competing well in Serie A, their focus on the Europa League will drop off.

And that leaves Athletic Bilbao with a great chance to win this tournament. The Spanish club know they’re never going to win La Liga and in reality their highest position domestically is fourth place. Now, that would secure a Champions League playoff place but they face Sevilla, Villarreal and Celta Vigo for that one spot.

Bilbao could therefore learn from Sevilla and pile their resources into Europe. It’s no guarantee but at 18.00 they are a great bet to win this competition.

Feyenoord good price to win Group A

Europa League group betting will not be more closely followed than in Group A. Manchester United are there alongside Fenerbahce and Luhansk, but the team to really look out for is Feyenoord.

Feyenoord have got off to a brilliant start in the Eredivisie and are early contenders to win the league in Holland. Eindhoven and Ajax will no doubt challenge the Rotterdam side and they are not expected to win the Europa League. But at 7.00 they are a great price to win their group.

The home and away legs with Fenerbahce will be crucial, especially the game in Holland which takes place in the last round of fixtures. Feyenoord have the ability to hold United at De Kuip and, with Nicolai Jørgensen and Eljero Elia in attack, they could spring a trap at Old Trafford.

United are 1.69 favourites to beat Feyenoord in the first round of fixtures. That isn’t a great price considering they have just lost to local rivals Manchester City in the derby and face a trip to Watford three days after the Feyenoord clash. Therefore, a draw at 3.85 is not a bad idea.

Combination bet on Villarreal, Zenit, Fiorentina and Roma

Combination betting on the Europa League is a great way to bump up your potential winnings on near-guarantee bets. For example, backing Inter Milan to win Group K at 1.72 is probably going to come in — but you won’t get much for your €10 bet.

A better way to maximise your potential earnings is to make a four-way combination bet on favourites in a number of groups. So, looking at Group L for example, Spain’s Villarreal are 1.40 to win possibly the easiest group of the tournament. They should have no problem against Zurich, Steaua and Osmanlispor. Equally in Group J, Fiorentina are 1.50 to top PAOK, Qarabag and Liberec.

Unibet has scoured the groups and crunched the numbers to find a respectable four-way combination bet: Zenit, Roma, Fiorentina and Villarreal to win their groups. A €10 wager brings in €35.44, which would increase to €44.30 if you throw Manchester United into the mix.

Bet on the Europa League