Having won six of the last ten Europa League Finals, it’s not going to feel like anything new to see Spanish clubs in the latter stages of this year’s tournament. And yet, the rescheduled event coming up in August will be like nothing we have seen before in club football. A series of one-legged ties across a couple of weeks, all taking place in Germany, will make the event seem like a World Cup or European Championship. This will be unprecedented territory for all involved.
As it stands, 16 teams remain in the Europa League, 12 of whom have played the first leg of the Last 16 ties. The quartet of Spanish and Italian teams, drawn together in the Last 16, have yet to play the first leg: Sevilla and Roma will play a one-off game for a quarter-final place on 6th August in Duisburg. Getafe and Inter Milan will play the day before in Gelsenkirchen. Teams like LASK, who are 5-0 down from the first leg to Manchester United, are all but eliminated. Wolves and Olympiacos, meanwhile, are tied 1-1 from the first leg.
United clear favourites in Germany
Once we get the Last 16 games done and dusted, it should all look a little clearer. Manchester United are the firm betting favourites to win the event. They’ve been given a price of 2/1 by MansionBet, a company that incidentally provides really thorough La Liga betting analysis through its blog. Milan (5/1), Bayer Leverkusen (6/1) and Wolves (8/1) make up the other market leaders.
But, for our purposes here, we want to look at Sevilla and Getafe. It seems like the bookmakers are a little cold on the Spanish sides, with Sevilla priced in at 17/2 and Getafe back at 14/1. Of course, one of the main issues is that both teams have been handed tough draws. Inter have blown hot and cold in Serie A this season, not mounting that sustained challenge to Juventus that everyone expected. They will provide tough competition to Getafe in a one-off game, though, and have the firepower to blow the Spanish side away. Roma are no mugs either, but Sevilla will probably fancy their chances.
Sevilla have secured Champions League football
A bigger question, however, might lie over how much effort Sevilla really want to put into winning in Germany. Yes, they have won the trophy three times in the last decade, but they have already secured Champions League football for next season, and it might be hard to motivate the side. We admit that’s a little speculative, and Sevilla could well bring their best to the table in Germany next month. Roma will pose some difficulty, however, and the Italians will also be acutely aware that winning the Europa League is now their only option to secure Champions League football next season.
As for Getafe, they might well be the surprise package of the tournament. They have not been at their best since La Liga restarted, but they have a habit of grinding out results in games and have become adept at defending slender leads – not a bad trait to have in a knockout tournament. You really could see them frustrate an Inter side that has not yet the cohesiveness to be considered one of the world’s best.
If either team gets through to the quarters, they will be kept apart in the draw. Sevilla would face the winner of Wolves vs Olympiacos and a potential semi-final against Manchester United. Getafe, meanwhile, would almost certainly face Bayer Leverkusen, with the Germans holding a 3-1 1st leg lead over Rangers. It’s a tough ask, but the way is clear for an all-Spanish Europa League Final on 21st August. It would be the perfect way to cap off what has been a strange summer of club football.