The draw for this season’s Europa League group stage has been made, with the first round of games taking place on September 19th.Looking at the early UEFA Europa League odds, Manchester United are favourites to lift the trophy come May. Chelsea may be the current holders, following their success in last season’s all-English final; however, it’s Sevilla with the most titles, having won the competition on five occasions. But at this stage, who are most likely to progress from each group? Let’s take a look at some of the contenders in more detail.
Sevilla, APOEL, Qarabağ, F91 Dudelange
Sevilla are favourites to top the group – the Europa League team with the most titles have been handed a decent draw and will surely progress in advance of the final round of games. From the other three, APOEL and Qarabağ are likely to battle it out for secondplace, but we think the Greek-Cypriot are more likely to reach the knock-out stages.
Dynamo Kyiv, FC Copenhagen, Malmö, Lugano
Kiev have transferred from the Champions League to the Europa League once again and will surely top the group with ease. Last year, they made it to the round of 16, losing to Chelsea 8-0 on aggregate. It will be a Scandinavian battle between Copenhagen and Malmöfor secondplace.
Basel, Krasnodar, Getafe, Trabzonspor
We can’t look beyond the top two here for progression to the knock-out stages. Krasnador narrowly lost out in the Round of 16 last season to Valencia, while Basel made the last 16 of the Champions League in 2017
Sporting CP, PSV Eindhoven, Rosenborg, LASK
Once again, we can’t seeRosenborg and LASK progressing, with Sporting and Eindhoven battling it out for top spot. We can’t call who will top Group D, but both teams regularly compete in both the Champions League and Europa League – and both could beat their Group C counterparts in the Round of 32.
Lazio, Celtic, Stade Rennais, CFR Cluj
Another group easy to call – Lazio and Celtic have to be the favourites to progress to the knock-out stages, in that order. Although Cluj beat Celtic in the Champions League qualifying rounds earlier this season; and Stade Rennais made it to the Round of 16 last season, their group this time around is a lot stronger and will see them eliminated.
Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liège, Vitória de Guimarães
Last season’s runners-up Arsenal have to be favouritesto progress, while Eintracht Frankfurt famously (and unluckily) lost to Chelsea in the semi-finals on penalties and will undoubtedly join the Gunners in the knock-out stages. Vitória will be playing their home games at an earlier time (4:50pm local time) on Wednesdays due to clashes and could well suffer as a result.
Porto, Young Boys, Feyenoord, Rangers
The Europa League’s group of death – where any of the four could well qualify for the knock-out stages. Rangers have been dealt a tough test. Porto and Young Boys both featured in last season’s Champions League, while Feyenoord will also prove formidable opponents. Porto are our favourites, but second-place could be anybody’s.
CSKA Moscow, LudogoretsRazgrad, Espanyol, Ferencváros
A second group that’s too close to call – CSKA have to be considered favourites to go through, while either Ludogorets or Espanyol will join them. The last time Espanyol played in Europe, they finished as runner-up – but that was in 2006/07.Ferencváros are the lowest-ranked side by UEFA co-efficient and are making the group stages for the first time since 2004/05.
VFL Wolsfburg, KAA Gent, Saint-Étienne, Oleksandriya
Any two from three could progress from Group I. Wolfsburg have to be considered favourites, just because they were drawn from pot one, while Gent and Saint-Étienne will battle it out for secondplace and knock-out progression. Oleksandriya are making the group stages for the first time in their history, having been knocked-out of qualifying the previous two seasons.
Roma, Borussia Mönchengladbach, İstanbul Başakşehir, Wolfsberger AC
Another group that’s easy to call, we can’t look beyond Roma and Mönchengladbach to progress. For Wolfsberger, it’s the first time they have qualified for the group stages of European competition and while they’ll relish the experience, they are there to make up numbers.İstanbul Başakşehir also have an unenviable record in the Europa League.
Beşiktaş, Braga, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Slovan Bratislava
In Group K, it could be any two from three and from a British-perspective, Wolves may be able to escape and advance to the Round of 32. Beşiktaş is a tough place to go and it could well be their home record that sees them progress. This group is too close to call and must be considered one of the most exciting for that reason.
Manchester United, Astana, Partizan Belgrade, AZAlkmaar
Red Devils’ fans will be over the moon with their draw and on paper, United should easily progress to the knock-out stages – despite the fact that their away trip to Astana will be a 6,000-mile round-trip and Partizan have been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors, due to racism. As for Astana, Partizan and AZ, one will join United, while the other two will be eliminated.