It is always a little tricky to predict who will win the Europa League at the start of each season.
Unlike its older brother, the Champions League, we cannot be sure of every team who will take part until Christmas, when eight sides who finish third in their group in the senior competition drop down into the junior tournament.
However, both finalists last term – Arsenal and Chelsea – entered the Europa League from the very start, and the same could easily happen this time around.
Manchester United’s odds have fallen after a favourable draw and they are now as short as 4/1 favourites to lift the trophy.
Arsenal are next in line at 6/1 and will be keen to make up for their near-miss last term, but it’s Porto – Champions League regulars who are participating in the Europa League in 2019/20 – who are proving the most popular selection at odds as long as 50/1.
Below is a group-by-group rundown of all 12 pools.
Sevilla have made the Europa League their own at times this decade, winning the tournament three times on the bounce in 2014, 2015, 2016. They are the heavyweights in Group A, which is completed by APOEL, Qarabag and Dudelange. The latter are rank outsiders and would settle for a couple of positive results, while it is difficult to see either APOEL or Qarabag challenging Sevilla for top spot.
Dynamo Kyiv were the seeded side in Group B as they attempt to win the Europa League for the first time in their history. Malmo and Copenhagen, two of Scandinavia’s representatives, will compete for a place in the top two in what is one of the more open segments, although Lugano will do little more than make up their numbers.
Basel have never gone beyond the semi-finals of the Europa League and that is unlikely to change this season. Getafe, who were included in Pot Three, will be reasonably content with the draw and could be an astute choice to advance in first place. Neither Krasnodar nor Trabzonspor can be written off either; Group C is one of those where it would not be a massive surprise if any of the four teams finished top.
Sporting CP won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1964, but that is the height of their continental achievements. PSV will do battle with the Portuguese outfit for first place, although Rosenborg could spring a surprise if one of the top two take their eye off the ball. The same probably cannot be said for LASK, however.
The atmosphere at Lazio and Celtic’s meetings should be fantastic, but the former have more quality within their squad and should ease to top spot. Rennes should not be underestimated by those of a Celtic persuasion, while Cluj are stronger than many of their fellow Pot Four members.
Arsenal will not have everything their own way in Group F, where Eintracht Frankfurt will have ambitions of finishing in first place. Last season’s semi-finalists have lost some key men in the summer transfer market, but the Gunners must be mindful of a surprise. Standard Liege would have hoped for an easier group.
Porto appear to be a little undervalued by the bookmakers, even if this is patently not the strongest team they have had in recent campaigns. Their odds are probably longer due to the difficulty of a group containing Rangers, Feyenoord and Young Boys – this looks like the segment to watch above all others in 2019/20.
CSKA Moscow, Ludogorets, Espanyol and Ferencvaros make up Group H. Espanyol can be found as long as 50/1 to win the tournament; although that is unlikely, they have a good chance of progressing to the knockout phase. CSKA are among the weaker top seeds, but Ludogorets and Ferencvaros are nothing more than outsiders to qualify.
Wolfsburg finished sixth in the Bundesliga last term, an achievement which may have been aided by their absence from European competition. The German outfit can be found at 33/1 to go all the way, but Saint Etienne and Gent will have ambitions of reaching the knockout phase too. Ukrainian club Olexandriya would probably settle for a solitary win.
Roma reached the Champions League semi-finals two seasons ago but now find themselves in Europe’s secondary competition. Borussia Monchengladbach could push the Serie A side down into second spot here, though, but Wolfsburg and Istanbul Basaksehir could struggle.
Wolves are the Premier League’s third representatives and will not fear their Group K opponents, although the same can be said for Benfica and Besiktas. This is likely to be a three-into-two situation, with Slovan Bratislava presumably cursing their luck at a tough draw.
Manchester United’s odds fell after the draw, which is a reflection of their relatively straightforward Group L opponents. The battle for second spot could be interesting, with each of Astana, Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar likely to be targeting a place in the knockout rounds.