Living the Europa League dream
Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United roll into European action tonight, and while it may not be the competition of choice, The Europa League has to be seen as a very winnable event for all three sides.
Going into the second legs of the first knock-out round it wouldn’t be completely unrealistic to think all three English sides will win at accumulated odds of 23/10. This isn’t based on a pro-Premier League bias either – it was fairly obvious watching Barcelona meticulously dismantle Arsenal’s Champions League dreams that maybe the Premier League isn’t the ‘All-time greatest league ever in the entire universe’.
But it is a punt based on logic.
All three English sides are at home, which is going to be an advantage at this stage of the tournament, and each side’s opposition are considered to be weaker than the respective English sides.
- Liverpool’s opponents Augsburg are 13th in the Bundesliga, just four points of relegation. According to the Euro Club Index – a ranking of football teams in the highest division of all European countries – they sit 63rd. Nine places below Stoke City. They drew 0-0 in Germany, and Liverpool will be confident of doing the business on one of their famous European nights at Anfield.
- Manchester United’s match is arguably even easier. Danish side FC Midtjylland are ranked 115th on the Euro Club Index – somewhere between West Brom (96) and Bournemouth (137). Midtjylland won the first leg 2-1, but Louis van Gaal’s Red Army have a crucial away goal and have lost just twice at the Theatre of Dreams in the league this season.
- Tottenham’s opposition is undoubtedly the toughest. Fiorentina are third in Serie A and are unbeaten in six league games – including a 2-1 win at home against Inter Milan. However Tottenham drew 1-1 in Florence, and Mauricio Pochettino will be eager to bounce back from their FA Cup defeat at home to Crystal Palace.
Obviously it isn’t going to be as straightforward as the above suggests. The queue outside Manchester United’s physio room is getting longer every day, while Harry Kane’s broken face means that he’ll be missing for Spurs. Daniel Sturridge is fit to play a part for Liverpool, but his legs are as delicate as your iPhone screen and you get the feeling another spell on the sidelines is only around the corner.
The odds certainly favour the English sides. Manchester United are the shortest odds at , with Liverpool at and Tottenham a shot. The treble works out at 23/10 for all three sides to pick up a win in 90 minutes.
Can England sides prove themselves more useful in Europe than a three pronged plug? Our bank balance certainly hopes so!