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Champions into Europa usually ends in tears

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Chelsea favourites for Europa League?

Champions into Europa usually ends in tears


Every week, bookmaker and former Racing Post chief sports betting writer Mark Worwood tackles one of football’s hottest topics from a punting perspective.

The future of the UEFA Europa League is in question again and deservedly so given the disdain with which many of Europe’s top football clubs treat the tournament.


One only has to review Roberto Mancini’s team selection and Manchester City’s team performance versus a second-string Dortmund to figure out that the Citizens would have done almost anything to avoid UEFA Europa League qualification.



No European Football left for Man City

And Chelsea only ended up in the UEFA Europa League because it could not escape European club football’s secondary competition thanks to Nordsjaelland being so out of its depth in Group E of the UEFA Champions League. The Blues would prefer to spend the second half of the season concentrating on their English Premier League games.


UEFA President Michel Platini, who is proving that great players do not necessarily make great administrators, has said that expanding the UEFA Champions League to 64 sides and axing the UEFA Europa League is an option for 2015 onwards as European football’s governing body continues to wrestle over what to do with its club tournaments.


The UEFA Europa League is a dead duck in its current format but at least it does serve up interesting ante-post betting opportunities. That is because doing just a little bit of homework throws up trends of which punters can make use.


Ajax (around 33-1), BATE (around 100-1), Benfica (around 28-1), Cluj (around 100-1), Chelsea (around 15-2), Dynamo Kyiv (around 50-1), Olympiacos (around 50-1) and Zenit (around 20-1) are the eight UEFA Champions League group bronze medallists who have joined the UEFA Europa League. Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is strident in his view that they should not be there but there they are and the draw for the last 32 featured some fairly big names.


According to the odds listed above, bookmakers are betting around the 5-2 mark that one of the UEFA Champions League rejects takes out the UEFA Europa League title. Does that represent good or bad value? Well, history more than suggests that punters should lay these eight teams.

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This time last season, Ajax, Manchester City, Manchester United, Olympiacos, Porto, Trabzonspor, Valencia and Viktoria Plzen bowed out of the UEFA Champions League and received a second chance in the UEFA Europa League. None of them went on to win the trophy. Indeed, only one of them – Valencia – made the semi-finals. And in the three years in which the competition has been known as the UEFA Europa League, only two UEFA Champions League flops have reached the final of the second-tier tournament, with Atletico Madrid going all the way to title glory in 2010.


The disappointment of crashing out of the UEFA Champions League seems difficult for latecomers to the UEFA Europa League to overcome, hence their uninspiring record.


And whereas England, Italy and Spain have shared the spoils in the UEFA Champions League for the best part of a decade, only one of those countries has supplied a UEFA Europa League champion in the last 10 years. That country is Spain and there is a rational explanation as to why La Liga sides have won five of the last nine UEFA Europa League finals.


Spanish teams take the UEFA Europa League far more seriously than their English and Italian counterparts because, quite understandably, they view it as their best chance to win a major piece of silverware. Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and Valencia got stuck into their UEFA Europa League quests because they knew that they had no chance of beating Barcelona and Real Madrid on their domestic scene.


At around 7-1, Atletico Madrid heads the UEFA Europa League betting market going into the last 32. Second in the Spanish La Liga, seven points ahead of third-placed Real Madrid, the Mattressmen are worthy favourites ahead of Chelsea et al.



Falcao’s Atletico Madrid Favourites To Retain Europa League Crown



Do you think that the UEFA Europa League’s days are numbered? Which club do you think will take out this season’s competition? Send me your comments.


Do you want to ask Mark a question about his experiences in the betting industry? Ask your question below and we will pick one or two from the post bag to be answered in next weeks column.




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