The Europa league still has an odd place in the minds of football fans and there are few competitions in world football in which half the teams will be overjoyed to be in it, and half will consider it a bogey prize for not making the Champions League. This certainly applies to the British teams taking part this year and after an All English final last year, are we in line for another successful season in the Europa League? Let us take a look at how the draw panned out for the British teams…
Unai Emery must be pleased with the outcome for Arsenal, and in a season in which the Premier League looks out of reach and a Top 4 birth not guaranteed, the Gunners could see this a good route into the Champions League next season. The group stage should not prove too much of an issue with a poor Standard Liege team and Vitoria from Portugal unlikely to causes a scare. Even Eintracht Frankfurt, although stronger than the others, are weak opposition considering Arsenals reserves so they should have no issues in taking 1st place. Prediction: 1st. See this great bet calculator for UK for the odds on this
Nothing seems to be going right for Manchester United at the moment. A lack of strikers, players leaving left right and centre and an under fire Pogba have created a start in the Premier League that is nothing but a disappointment for the Old Trafford faithful. And although the Europa League draw will be easy to navigate on the pitch, the horrid travel to Astana and Belgrade won’t be appreciated in a busy calender. AZ should prove easier but United should win the group, but the effect of travel may take its toll later in the season. Prediction: 1st
Whilst Arsenal and United may see the Europa League as a consolation for not making the Champions League, Wolves are overjoyed to be back in Europe but have been handed a tough tough group and with no wins in their first 4 Premier League games, its hard to see success coming in Europe. Besiktas are a solid side and will top the group with Braga likely to be Wolves’ main challenger for second. Slovan Bratislava will be a tough away gig. Prediction: 3rd
Rangers have been dealt a tough hand too in their return to Europa and Steven Gerrard will have a job and a half to overcome Porto and Feyenoord to get out of this group. Even Young Boys looked good in their Champions League qualifiers so Rangers are facing an uphill task. Prediction: 4th
And the luck doesn’t get better for Celtic. A very good Lazio side await in the Group stages as well as a Rennes side who have hit form this season. If those two weren’t bad enough, Celtic also have Cluj to face again who defeated them in the Champions League qualifiers. A nasty draw, not impossible but unlikely. Prediction: 3rd
The Europa League is a long haul, and the first step will be to navigate the group. 5 British teams begin the group stage but as little as 2 could remain by the time we get to the next phase. Time will tell.