Europa League: Best Bets after the Semi Final draw
The road to the Europa League final in Azerbaijan is paved with intense battles, hard core rivalry and a rich reward that will see the winner earn their place in the coveted Champions League for next season.
Eight sides remain with route to the final mapped out for all sides with the semi-final looking set to throw up some mouth-watering ties as some of Europe’s biggest clubs go in search of the Europa League trophy.
How the semi-finals shape up
There are no easy matches in the semi-finals as the last eight winners between Napoli and Arsenal will then face one of two Spanish sides, Villarreal or Valencia, who face one another in the last eight.
The winners between Benfica or the impressive Eintracht Frankfurt will then face a double header against either England’s Chelsea or the Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague.
Back the English?
Chelsea were in resplendent form as they demolished Dynamo Kiev both home and away legs in the last 16.
Maurizio Sarri’s men have shone in the tournament so far this season and are widely expected to achieve a last four birth.
However, the same cannot be said of their London counterparts Arsenal. Twice the Gunners had to come back from first leg deficits over BATE Borisov and Rennes in order to progress and up against many popular bookmakers’ favourites Napoli, who will be contesting the semi-final over either Villarreal or Valencia.
However, Blues boss Sarri was delighted to miss his former club in both the quarter-final and semi-final after admitting he would like to play them in the final as then he would be happy for both clubs.
How has the draw affected the odds?
2013 Europa League winners Chelsea has shot to the top of the betting as favourites after avoiding Napoli in the quarters and semi-final.
With Slavia Prague and either Eintracht or Benfica to overcome on route to the Baku final, it is deemed the Blues has the easiest path.
Chelsea come in at around 19/10 favourites with popular sportsbooks as they seek their second title, whilst Sarri’s former side Napoli are second favourites at 4/1.
Napoli’s opponents for a place in the semi-finals Arsenal come in at around 6/1 and the hope is Unai Emery starts to take the competition seriously as his side face a tough task to finish in the top four in the Premier League, meaning the Europa League may be the Gunners’ only option for Champions League qualification.
It is no surprise to see shock quarter-finalists Slavia Prague bottom in the betting for the outright Europa League winner at around 66/1 with Villarreal ahead of them at 18/1.
Valencia can be found at 8/1 with both Benfica and Eintracht at 11/1, the latter a great outside shot after dumping out Inter in the last 16.
The route to the final is mapped out with the pressure firmly ramped up in Europe’s second tier competition, it will be thrilling all the way to Baku.