Barcelona, West Ham, Rangers: Who are Europa League favourites?

Declan Rice Frenkie de Jong Europa League

The draws for the round of 16 of the Europa League were made on Friday morning, and there are some juicy ties for football fans to get their teeth sunk into.

West Ham, who had already qualified for the knock-out stages, will take on six-time champions Sevilla in what might be the biggest tie of the round.

Meanwhile, FC Porto have also been drawn against Olympique Lyon in another huge bout, while Bayer Leverkusen, who currently occupy third place in the Bundesliga, will also have the tall task of defeating Atalanta if they are to progress to the quarter-finals.

All arrows point towards an epic finale to the tournament, with some big clubs set to have their European campaigns cut short in the next few weeks.

One club that have also qualified for the last 16 of the tournament is Barcelona.

The Catalan club dramatically failed to reach the Champions League knock-out stages for the first time since 2004, but they defeated Italian side Napoli, with a convincing 4-2 win last Thursday, progressing into the knock-out stages of the tournament.

Frenkie de Jong Barcelona

They are perhaps now the strongest side in the cup competition but there are plenty of teams still in the running to challenge them for the Europa League title.

Barcelona will now take on Galatasaray in the last-16 of the Europa League, and while they are large favourites to win, data analysts FiveThirtyEight have pitted them against the other teams in the tournament, making an assessment of each club’s chances of reaching and ultimately winning the final.

Using statistics to make their predictions, FiveThirtyEight have developed what they call an ‘SPI Rating’ that orders teams on their best overall attacking and defensive strengths.

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That has enabled them to rank the remaining teams in the Europa League and calculate the percentage chance of each winning the final.

While it’s all very technical, we have condensed their data into a list that ranks the teams who are still left in the competition on the percentage chance FiveThirtyEight have given them of reaching the final.

Take a look at their list below…

FiveThirtyEight’s predictions of who will win the Europa League

16. Galatasaray – <1 per cent chance of winning

15. Spartak Moscow – <1 per cent chance of winning

14. Red Star Belgrade – <1 per cent chance of winning

13. Sporting Braga – 1 per cent chance of winning

12. Eintracht Frankfurt – 2 per cent chance of winning

11. Lyon – 3 per cent chance of winning

10. Rangers – 3 per cent chance of winning

9. West Ham – 4 per cent chance of winning

8. Real Betis – 6 per cent chance of winning

7. Sevilla – 6 per cent chance of winning

6. Monaco – 7 per cent chance of winning

5. Leverkusen – 7 per cent chance of winning

4. Atalanta – 8 per cent chance of winning

3. Porto – 12 per cent chance of winning

2. RB Leipzig – 21 per cent chance of winning

1. Barcelona – 22 per cent chance of winning

As expected, Barcelona come out on top, with the Blaugrana being hot favourites to lift the Europa League title this year.

FiveThirtyEight have predicted that their most likely opponents in the final will be either RB Leipzig or two-time champions Porto.

Both sides have a 36 per cent and a 23 per cent chance, respectfully, of reaching the finals of the competition, edging the likes of Leverkusen, Monaco and even Sevilla.

Meanwhile, West Ham and Rangers are being backed with much slimmer chances of winning the title.

Despite David Moyes’ side cruising their way through the group stages and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side overturning Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, FiveThirtyEight have afforded the UK sides very little chance of winning the competition.

But as we know all too well, football isn’t always about stats.

And while there might be a lot to agree with the rankings, anything can happen in 90 minutes of football.

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