The UEFA Europa League is back after the group stage got underway and it promises to be another fascinating season of European action.
There will be three Premier League representatives in the group stage of the competition, with Liverpool and Brighton earning entry through their league finish last season and West Ham added after winning the Europa Conference League.
For those of you interested in sports betting at BestOdds we’ve looked at the five favourites to win the 2023/24 Europa League.
Villarreal – 16/1
Villarreal are back on this stage as the Spanish side look to win a second Europa League title. The Yellow Submarine were crowned winners of this competition under Unai Emery in 2020/21, before reaching the Champions League’s last four the following season.
An impressive fifth-place finish in La Liga last season, despite Emery’s mid-season exit to take charge of Aston Villa, has placed Villarreal in the group stages where the Spaniards will take on Rennes, Maccabi Haifa and Panathinaikos.
Much will depend on how the club’s new signings settle, having lost key personnel over the summer with Pau Torres, Nicolas Jackson and Samuel Chukwueze all departing.
Alexander Sorloth has arrived after scoring 16 goals on loan at Real Sociedad last season, while Ben Brereton Diaz has swapped Championship side Blackburn for European football.
Roma – 16/1
Roma finished as runners-up in the Europa League last season, but saw hopes of a second successive European trophy ended after defeat to Sevilla on penalties.
Jose Mourinho had led Roma to the Conference League the previous season, securing the club’s first ever major European trophy. Roma have started the season in poor form but secured their first win of the Serie A campaign after thrashing Empoli 7-0 this month.
There’s firepower in Mourinho’s squad this season, with Romelu Lukaku and Sardar Azmoun having arrived this summer to compliment a forward line that includes Paolo Dybala, Andre Belotti and Tammy Abraham.
Bayer Leverkusen – 16/1
Bayer Leverkusen are a team on the rise under manager Xabi Alonso, who has had a transformative impact since taking charge of the German side last season.
Alonso inherited the team in the Bundesliga’s relegation places last season, before leading Leverkusen up the division and to Europa League qualification. Their momentum has continued with a swashbuckling start to the new season, one which has Leverkusen unbeaten after five games and behind Bayern Munich only on goal difference.
Summer signing Victor Boniface has hit the ground running with seven goals in six appearances, while Granit Xhaka, Alejandro Grimaldo and Jonas Hofmann have added quality in key areas.
Leverkusen – who are without a major trophy in three decades – are one to watch.
Brighton – 12/1
Brighton are competing in Europe for the first time in the club’s history this season, but have been instantly installed as second-favourites to lift the Europa League.
Roberto De Zerbi has transformed the Seagulls into one of the Premier League’s most impressive outfits, with Brighton adjusting to losing key players and continuing to improve.
Brighton have won five of their first six fixtures of the Premier League season, a run which includes a 3-1 win at Manchester United.
The Seagulls have a style that seems perfectly suited to continental competition and will be a team others will want to avoid should they progress to the latter rounds.
Brighton will need to bounce back from an opening defeat to AEK Athens however, in a tough group that also features Ajax and Marseille.
Liverpool – 10/3
Liverpool are back in the Europa League for the first time since Jurgen Klopp’s first season in charge of the club, when the Reds finished as runners-up to Sevilla (2015/16).
The three-time winners will start as favourites to win the trophy, given their impressive pedigree on the Champions League stage in recent campaigns. Liverpool have reached three Champions League finals since 2018 and are the biggest name in the group stage of this season’s Europa League.
Europe could provide Klopp with a chance to gel his new look side together this season, having rebuilt his midfield with the summer arrivals of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch.