It has been widely discussed who the favourites for this year’s Champions League are, however not many people have been speaking about the Europa League favourites.
There are three English sides in the pot for the first knockout phase. Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham all have a chance of winning the whole thing.
Everton, stick out as the favourite out of the three English teams still involved. Roberto Martinez has named competitive sides in all of the matches so far and his side reach the next phase despite a strong group, which included Lille and Wolfsburg.
After reaching the knockout stage with a game to spare, Everton have put themselves in the seeded pot, and were rewarded with a tie against Young Boys.
Inter in contention
Just four years four years ago, Inter Milan found themselves winning the Champions League. Inter are now in the last 32 of the Europa and have every chance of winning it.
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Roberto Mancini is back in charge and looks to have instilled some confidence back to his former side. Inter Milan have fielded strong sides for their group games and that looks to continue.
With the San Siro sold out, Inter would fancy their chances against anyone. Celtic await in the next round.
Roma or Zenit?
Another Italian side in contention are AS Roma. Unfortunate to be knocked out the Champions League after a final day defeat by Manchester City, but now have a second crack at European glory.
Gervinho looks to have excelled since moving away from Arsenal. The likes of Totti, Maicon and Ashley Cole provide vital European experience which could prove vital in the further stages of the tournament.
Crowned champions in 2008, Zenit St. Petersburg will be looking to do better after finishing third in a weak Champions League group. A nine point lead in the Russian League means that boss, Andre Villas-Boas, can pose a serious threat in the Europa League.
Zenit will be a tie that many sides will wish to avoid during February’s winter months. Also coupled with this is the fact, Zenit have strengthened and added the likes of Ezequiel Garay and Javi Garcia to shore up their defence.
Roma and Zenit will both face Dutch opposition, with Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven the teams to have been pitted against.
Last year’s winners, Sevilla, are still in contention, as well as strong sides such as Ajax, Napoli and Villarreal.
The Europa League, despite being on a Thursday night, is an attention grabbing competition. Simply because it is wide open, anyone can win.