The Europa League, as it has been called since the 2009-10 season, is Europe’s second most prestigious continental competition – playing second fiddle to the Champions League. However, it is just as attractive from a betting perspective with odds available on every conceivable market! Created in 1971 as the UEFA Cup, illustrious names such Juventus, Liverpool and Inter Milan (who have each lifted the trophy three times) along with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Ajax have all featured strongly in the history of the competition.
Teams who win one of their country’s qualifying domestic cup competitions or who finish just outside the Champions League qualification places in the league are entered into the following season’s Europa League. Three places are also reserved for teams topping the UEFA Fair Play table.
The competition begins with four qualifying rounds, although higher ranked sides come in at later stages depending on various factors. This is followed by the Group Stage, in which the defending champions and 10 Champions League play-off losers join the rest in 12 groups of four. After this comes the knockout phase, with the 12 group-winners and runners-up being joined in the final 32 by eight Champions League sides who finished third in their groups in that competition – often landing a team who was progressing well with a tough draw at this stage. Four rounds of two-legged ties follow before the final, played in a single match (as opposed to two legs) on the Wednesday which falls 10 days before the Champions League final.
Recent winners have included Athletico Madrid (2012 and 2010), Sevilla (2006 and 2007), Porto (2003 and 2011), Shakhtar Donetsk (2009), Zenit St Petersburg (2008) and CSKA Moscow (2005).
With the real powerhouses of European football virtually assured of Champions League qualification the competition has thrown up some unusual winners, often at very attractive odds. As shown above, it has been dominated of late by Iberian teams and those from Eastern Europe but in 2013 English clubs are looking like they might challenge for the crown.
You can check out the latest betting odds on Spurs, Newcastle, Chelsea and all the other teams in our UEFA Europa League odds comparison tool. Good luck and happy betting!