The Europa League gets back underway this week, as the business end of the competition begins. All the teams in the round of 32 will have eyes on the final at the end of the season, but only two sides can make it that far. Two of the bookmaker’s favourites in the betting for the competition are in action this week, but how will they get on?
Club Brugge vs Manchester United
The Red Devils are many people’s picks to win the Europa League this season. This competition could be United’s route back into the Champions League for next season, and they do have a history of achieving Europa League success. They won the competition back in 2017 when they beat Ajax in the final in Stockholm. United will go into this fixture against Club Brugge as the 1.46 favourites with BetXChange to get the win, as they have a much higher quality of players in their squad.
United were dominant in the group stage of the competition, as they got qualification wrapped up with two games to go. They only conceded two goals in the group phases, with both of them coming against Astana as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rested a host of first-team players. They scored eight goals in the previous round, and that will ensure that they are confident heading into this fixture.
Club Brugge have dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group. They managed to get a respectable point against Real Madrid away from home, which was ultimately the decisive factor in them getting third place. However, United will take a lot of confidence from the fact that Brugge conceded 12 goals in that group phase. United will get the draw in Belgium, before making sure of qualification in the second leg.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Porto
Two more sides that will be hopeful of reaching the final at the end of the season will be Bayer Leverkusen and Porto, but only one of the teams will progress. Both sides have European pedigree, and this should be an interesting game for the neutrals.
Leverkusen dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group, which also included Juventus and Atletico Madrid. Their win over Atletico in the group phase was their best performance in Europe this season, and ensured that they beat Lokomotiv Moscow to third spot. The young squad that Leverkusen have is an exciting one to watch, but it will be interesting how they perform coming up against Porto, who have a wealth of experience under their belts.
Porto would have been disappointed to have been playing their European football in the second tier this season, but they already look like a team that could cause problems. They progressed through their tough group including Rangers, Young Boys and Feyenoord by finishing top. They lost just twice in that phase, but their attacking players ensured that their three wins was enough to get them top spot.
This is one of the most interesting ties in this round, and it could go either way. The preference in the first leg would be for the home side.