The Europa League is often unfairly cast as a European equivalent to the League Cup, a competition nobody is particularly bothered about winning until the accidentally reach the last stages. However, the second tier European cup often provides some of the most exhilarating matches around today. It’s not unusual to see some of Europe’s biggest clubs against sides unknown outside of their own country, creating some memorable encounters and unforgettable upsets. With current champions Sevilla competing in the Champions League, there could be room for an outsider to win this year’s tournament. So check out our Europa League predictions about five sides who could compete for this tear’s trophy.
Europa League Predictions 2020
Having agonizingly missed out on a Champions League spot on the final day of the season, Leicester City will no doubt to be looking to carry on English sides’ good recent record in the Europa League. The Foxes have started off strongly in the Premier League with striker Jamie Vardy in imperious form and the promising midfield duo of Harvey Barnes and James Maddison splitting defences wide open. They have some tricky matches to overcome in Group G, with the likes of Braga and AEK Athens making for some interesting away matches. Having reached the last eight of the Champions League a few seasons ago, there is no reason why Leicester can’t draw on this experience to help claim their first European trophy.
A stalwart of European competition, Benfica found themselves in the Europa League having experienced an upset defeat by Greek side PAOK in the Champions League qualifying rounds. Therefore, the Lisbon-based side will be looking to strike back in the Europa League and go on a strong run into the later rounds and simply have to be included in our Europa League predictions.
Their squad is brimming with talent, having bolstered their defence with Premier League veterans such as Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen and the addition of flamboyant Brazilian Everton Soares to an attack that will be tough for any team to handle. The Portuguese runners-up have a tricky Group D draw with the likes of Rangers and Standard Liege likely to pose some tricky challenges over the coming weeks. A strong showing in the group stages will no doubt put Benfica back on track and show why they have featured regularly in Europe so often in recent memory.
Austrian side LASK Linz fell on tough times a few years back but some strong showing in recent Austrian Bundesliga campaigns have them very much back to their best. They have shown grit and determination in the qualifying rounds defeating stronger sides such as Sporting Lisbon to reach the group stages.
Their squad is filled with upcoming talents with the likes of Peter Michorl and Gernot Trauner looking to prove themselves against some of the best in Europe. It won’t be easy for LASK to get out of Group J with English giants Tottenham Hotspur the headline name that they have to overcome. Having also been drawn against other lesser known sides such as Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad and Belgian side Antwerp though, LASK will hope that their hungry young side can propel them forward into the knockout stages.
Scottish football has been in the doldrums for some time now and reigning champions Celtic know that much of its rejuvenation rests on their shoulders. Whilst not being as successful as previous generations in continental competition, The Bhoys have won almost everything there is to offer in Scotland meaning that there is no better time for them to chase a European trophy.
They could have the squad to challenge too with Odsonne Edouard proving to be one of Europe’s brightest attacking talents as well as the likes of Leigh Griffiths and Jamie Forrest now very much at the peak of their careers. Their Group H draw has put them in the ring with other European giants looking for redemptions with both AC Milan and Lille likely to provide stern tests. If they overcome these hurdles, Celtic would’ve shown that they have everything they need to go all the way in the competition and put Scottish football very much back on the comeback trail.
Rated as one of the lower ranked sides in the draws for the group stages, Nice are looking to prove why they have been overlooked in conjunction with their coefficient ranking. The Ligue 1 side is loaded with talent with the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Kasper Dolberg having competed at the highest level, as well as the never-ending presence of Dante within the back line.
A squad loaded with talent like this will no doubt be keen to impress in Group A where they will off against a tough Bayer Leverkusen as well as unproven squads such as Slavia Prague and Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Nice have all the tools needed to go far in the competition and strong results against the likes of Leverkusen will show that the French side are much deadlier than expected to be. Perhaps one of the more surprising Europa League winners predictions but Nice certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
Andrew Roach has been busy putting together his Champions League and Europa League predictions. To see his picks for the Champions League click here.
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