After a thrilling group stage, anticipation is high for the Europa League knockout stages, and with some big of Europe’s biggest sides dropping down to the continent’s secondary competition from the Champions League, including former European champions Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund, this year’s tournament has the potential to be one of the best in years.
There’s still a long way to go though. So, as the dust settles on the group stages and excitement begins to build for the knockout round play-off, where the eight Champions League rejects will play the eight sides who finished second in their groups, we have scoured sites like Betdaq to find out who the favourites are to lift the Europa League trophy at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium in Seville next May. Read on to find out more!
Borussia Dortmund have become a knockout stage regular in the Champions League in the last 10 years or so, failing to make it out of the group stages on just a couple of occasions. However, after missing out on second place to Sporting Lisbon on the basis of inferior goal difference, they dropped down to the Europa League. It might not be a bad thing for BVB though, as Marco Rose’s side are now the favourites to win the tournament and they certainly won’t turn their noses up at the possibility of winning silverware — especially as Bayern Munich tend to sweep everything up domestically. Dortmund will get their campaign underway against Scottish champions Rangers and they will surely fancy their chances against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side.
Playing in the Europa League certainly isn’t ideal for Barcelona. Not only will their fans believe they are too big for the competition, but with over £1 billion racked up in debts, the Catalan side could have really done with the Champions League’s much larger prize money. However, when they shake off the embarrassment of finishing behind Bayern and Benfica in Group E, Xavi’s side will knuckle down. Despite being a shadow of their former selves, they still have a great chance to win the trophy and that could be crucial in them playing Champions League football again next season, as they currently sit eighth in La Liga. Getting the better of their knockout round opponent, Napoli, will be no easy feat though!
Sticking with Spanish sides, Sevilla are the joint-second favourites to win the Europa League alongside Barça. Los Nervionenses have been a dominant force in the competition in recent years, winning four of the last eight renewals, but haven’t had as much luck in the Champions League. They’ve dropped down again this year and Julen Lopetegui will be hoping that he can guide the side to glory in the secondary cup for the second time after their success in the 2019-20 season — when Sevilla beat Inter Milan 3-2 behind closed doors at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne. They’ll kick their Europa League campaign off with a clash against Dinamo Zagreb, who finished behind West Ham United in Group H.
Just when it looked like Atalanta were beginning to become a consistent outfit in the knockout stages of the Champions League, after reaching the quarter finals and the round of 16 in the last couple of seasons, the Italian side find themselves back in the Europa League. After failing to qualify for any of Europe’s club competitions for almost 30 years and with the realistic possibility of going much further in the Europa League than in the Champions League, we’re sure they won’t mind though. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will face Olympiacos in the knockout round and have a great chance of reaching the round of 16.