Many see this competition as the consolation for not reaching the Champions League. But those who do that are totally wrong. Europa League or the old UEFA Cup is one of the best things football can offer. Why? Because it gives a chance to clubs, which are not among the major continental powerhouses to experience what it is like to appear on the international stage.
Especially if one small team somehow gets through the domestic cup and earns a spot in this competition. You have to admit, something like that is beautiful to see.
The Europa League probably has a more significant impact on the development of football in Europe than the Champions League, where the majority of the clubs are regular participants. In EL, however, you see new faces all the time, which is great, because that is the original mission of football – to join together as many people as possible.
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The Europa League was at first UEFA Cup, up until 2009 when that competition underwent a massive change in its entire organization. The UEFA Cup was established in 1971 as the successor of the Inter-Cities Fair Cup, which lasted for 16 years. However, the UEFA officially does not recognize this competition in any way because the European house of football didn’t organize it. But for sure, it later used its infrastructure to establish the UEFA Cup, so it deserves to be mentioned in this text.
The first edition of the newly formed UEFA brand was launched in 1971/72 season, with two English cubs reaching the finals – Tottenham Hotspurs and Wolverhampton Wanderer. The Spurs would capture the trophy and become the inaugural winners.
Sevilla is the most successful club in this competition with five titles, and all won since 2006. Four teams have won it three times, Liverpool, Juventus, Inter Milan, and Atletico Madrid. Many were surprised to see IFK Goteborg as two-time winners, same as Ipswich Town or Galatasaray, who have one trophy each. In total, 28 clubs have won this prestigious trophy. The Spanish clubs are the most successful with 11 wins, then come the English and Italian sides with 9 each.
Before Europa League, there was the UEFA Cup, which had a much different format than today’s competition. There weren’t any groups, but instead a knockout system based on the eliminations. Two teams would face one another at home and on the road, and the winner on aggregate score would proceed further.
It is a bit different now. At first, there are three qualifying rounds for the teams who are eligible for this competition. Their starting position is determined by the country coefficient. The higher it is, the shorter is the way towards the group stage, and vice versa. Some top European leagues have their representatives proceeding directly to the group stage.
Also, we need to add that the club coefficient determines the opponent. During the draw, the teams are divided into pots, the first one with clubs that have higher coefficients, and the second with lower. One participant can’t meet with the rival from his pot. With this rule, UEFA awards the teams who are constant on the international stage, giving them a sort of edge and increasing their chances to reach the group stage.
After the third round, come the playoffs, where teams eliminated from the Champions League’s third qualifying stage join also. It consists of 29 teams who previously reached the playoffs through the qualifiers and 15 of the newcomers from the Champions League. A total of 22 winners are entering the group stage. They join 16 sides who have a directly reserved spot earned through national competitions and 10 more losers from the Champions League playoffs.
From there, they are divided into 12 groups with four teams. Two first-placed sides from each assembly are progressing to the knockout stage. Besides those 24 clubs, 8 third-placed teams from the UCL also have a spot in the EL knockout stage. From that moment on, we have a classic knockout system.
The finals have just one game. Until 1997 there were two games, but that changed the following season.
Finances and Sponsors
Although it is not the Champions League, Europa League has a very respectable budget, and teams that participate can earn a substantial amount of money. Each side gets €2,920,000 for reaching the group stage, and later, every win is paid €570,000, while a draw brings €190,000. If one team finishes first in the group, he earns a million euros, and the second-places twice as less. Whoever is in the round of 32 has €500,000, round of 16 €1,100,000, €1,500,000 for the quarterfinals, €2,400,00 for the semis and at last, the runners-up receive €4,500,000, while the winner gets €8,500,000, and a place in the Champions League which automatically brings between €15-20 million at least.
The main sponsors of the competition are Hankook Tire, Kia Motors, FedEx, Amstel, and Enterprise Rent-a-car.
Betting on Europa League
EL is for many bettors far more tempting for staking some money than the Champions League. Why? Well, because there are more games involved, meaning that there are more possibilities for them. Whether they look for games with a high number of goals, or with possible surprises, etc., the number of matches provides you numerous opportunities, which could lead to potential winnings.
The Europa League offers so many betting options. You have conventional ways of betting on individual matches with all the traditional markets involved. You can also make live bets during the contests, or pick an outright before the competition begins.
Betting on individual matches, which can be used in singles, doubles, or parlays. As usual, the three most frequent markets used are:
- Full-Time Result
- Total Goals Over/Under
- Asian Handicap
When talking about the in-play betting, people are often choosing the next three markets:
- Next goal
- Total Goals Over/Under
This is a chapter of its own in this article because there are so many things we wanted to tell you about outright bets in the Europa League. It is probably a more interesting way of wagering than the two above-mentioned.
At any time of the competition, you can make an outright bet, but of course, the biggest offer is before the start of the group stage. You can place a bet on how far will your favorite team go, how many points in the group will he collect, how many goals will concede or score, who is going to be its top striker, etc., virtually anything you want or can imagine.
The most frequent outrights are involving:
- Winner of the competition
- Top Goalscorer
But along with them, several others are pretty intriguing, and a lot of punters pick them. Before the group stage of the competition, many are placing bets on the winners of those assemblies, and at that time, it is maybe the most popular outright.
Also, betting on the number of points one team wins during the group stage is very popular among the punters. The next one is how many goals will one team score, etc.
Apart from that, you can find various other exotic offers, like which team concedes the most goals, how many red cards will one side have, and similar stuff.
So, in general, the outright betting with the Europa League involved is super-interesting, and with a little bit of creativity, you can make it very profitable.
Tips and Tricks for Betting on the Europa League
We have so many things to share with you regarding this matter. This isn’t going to be just a chapter in the article, but also a very useful one, so please, stay tuned and carefully read the next few paragraphs.
The Europa League is the competition where teams from all over the continent gather, and many of them don’t share the same interests and have their unique characteristics, styles, and many more.
So, for instance, you need to know that Italian and English clubs don’t value EL the same. Up until a few years ago, the teams from both of these nations didn’t play it with full strength as they considered it to be a burden that will prevent them from making solid results in the domestic championships. We have numerous statements of the Italian club owners who are saying that the Europa League presents an expense for them without any profits. And even today, the Italian sides are not very keen on playing EL.
As for the English sides, that changed. They figured out that reaching the Champions League through this competition would be easier than through the Premier League. That is why both Arsenal and Chelsea gave their best last year when the knockout-stage began.
Also, some major clubs often use this competition to give a chance to the younger players, and that is a common situation during the group stage. When the eliminations begin, they bring in the top squad. So, always check the lineups before, let’s say Manchester United’s road game.
Something like that is frequent when there is a big match coming up in the Premiership, and earlier that week, Europa League games are on.
Some teams (mainly from Scandinavia and Belarus), are often handicapped when playing not only Europa League but Champions League as well. Their domestic championships finish in November or early December, while the group stage still lasts, and they don’t have any competitive matches causing their form to drop.
Time zones are also problematic because sometimes, clubs from the Eastern region of the UEFA reach the group stages. And not only do they need to play games much earlier than others, but also, the rival sides can travel up to several thousands of miles and 13-14 hours before reaching the final destination. It makes their job much tougher, especially if they don’t have impressive quality. The hosts have a massive advantage over them in those cases.
Be well aware of the surface at the match venue. Some teams have artificial turf instead of the regular hybrid or fully natural grass. It provides them a great advantage, and the guests are often handicapped because playing on such turf is an entirely different experience. There is one other thing in these situations. The efficiency of the events is pretty high, due to the speed of play caused by the turf itself. The movement of the ball is much quicker, and it often provides more chances than normally, as well as some unusual goals. For example, stadiums with such surfaces are Astana Arena, Stade de Suisse (Young Boys), Luzhniki Stadium (Spartak), etc.
- Two teams stayed undefeated in Europa League but failed to win the competitions, after losing on penalties, Benfica (2014) and Espanyol (2007)
- Believe it or not, IFK Goteborg played 25 games in UEFA Cup between 1980 and 1987, not losing a single one, and winning the trophy twice, in 1982 and 1987
- In 1980 all four semifinalists were from West Germany.
- Aritz Aduriz scored five goals at one EL game. His Athletic Bilbao defeated Genk 5-3 in 2016.
- However, the guys with the most goals during one campaign was Radamel Falcao with 17 hits.
- The best goal/appearance ratio was set by Jupp Heynckess with 23 goals in 21 games, 1.095
- The all-time top-scorer is Henrik Larsson, who posted 40 goals, playing for Feyenoord, Celtic, and Helsingborg.
- Giuseppe Bergomi played 96 games in UEFA Cup, all of them for Inter Milan, and he leads the all-time appearance list.
- The last two-legged final was in 1997, between Schalke 04 and Inter Milan, both teams won 1-0 on their turf, but the Germans captured the trophy after penalties.
- The next year Inter won the competition beating Lazio in the first single-legged finals held at Parc des Princes in Paris.
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