Every year, the best of the best and the best of the rest compete in Europe’s biggest competitions: the Champions League and the Europa League. The Champions League is the biggest competition and is often called “the billion-dollar ball”, because of the big cash prizes given to the participating clubs.
The Europa League has been dubbed the “million-dollar ball” because of the more modest cash prizes. In the Champions League, you are occasionally presented with real 5-star matches, with football that will have you licking your fingers as a fan.
Still, our humble opinion is that the Europa League is usually the more interesting competition, or at least more surprising with changing teams from smaller and bigger leagues.
There are several reasons why betting on Europa League is very interesting. The money, the excitement, the erratic nature of the competition, the increasing level as the tournament progresses. All legitimate reasons as far as we are concerned!
On Mobile Wins, we inform you about betting on all European football leagues. The latest news, great odds and current bonuses. On this page, we tell you all about the format of the tournament, the biggest contenders for winning the Europa League and in which betting markets the odds lie.
Betting on Europa League football
Sometimes called the first or second division of Europe, this competition is still a stage for many clubs to show their potential and grow into the next European titan.
Think of clubs like Liverpool and Napoli, who were still playing in the Europa League a few years ago, but are now favourites for the Champions League title. Especially now that the Conference League counts as a stepping stone to this competition.
Betting on the Europa League means much more variety than betting on the Champions League. More unexpected results, more underdog surprises and more variance in teams’ legacies. It’s nice to see teams from leagues other than England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France right? Betting on Europa League is suitable for people who follow football better than just the news headlines in the dailies.
Set-up of the Europa League
The format of the Europa League has been similar to the Champions League since 2004/2005. That is, preliminary rounds are played via the knockout system, the main tournament starts with a pool phase and ends again with knockout system.
The final is played in a city designated before the tournament starts to avoid any bias. Before this set-up, the Europa League (then Europacup 2/3) was a real cup tournament on the knock-out principle.
The big difference with the Champions League is that there is still a hook-up with the national cup tournaments. Cup winners, such as the winner of the Dutch KNVB Cup, are directly qualified for (a preliminary round) of the Europa League.
To give you an idea of how many clubs participate: 78 clubs enter in the first preliminary round. 21 cup winners, 25 numbers 2 from the national league, 29 numbers 3 and 3 winners of the Fair Play standings. In the second preliminary round, 41 new clubs enter in addition to the 39 winners from preliminary round 1. Etcetera.
When clubs enter depends on the UEFA coefficient efficiency. In the first preliminary rounds, we find mostly clubs from so-called football dwarfs, while countries like England, Spain and the Netherlands (yes yes yes, we are doing it right) send clubs only in the third preliminary round or group stage.
Europa League history
Nice pub quiz question: what did the UEFA Cup succeed in 1971/72? Anyone? The answer is the Jaarbeurs city cup. This tournament was a private initiative after the establishment of the European Cup 1 in 1955 and was soon affectionately called the Runners Up Cup. A status that the Europa League still has today.
The Jaarbeurs city cup became the UEFA Cup, also known as the European Cup 3. When the Europacup 2 was abolished in 1999, the UEFA Cup gained prestige.
In 2009/10, the Cup was renamed the Europa League as we know it today. In 2021, the EL got a little brother called the Conference League, suddenly giving the Europa League more prestige. European football is becoming more and more fun!
Participants, contenders and outsiders
Unlike the Champions League, the number of clubs competing in the Europa League is incredibly large. A total of 197(!) clubs participate. Of these, only 48 reach the group stage and 32 the knockout stage.
With so many participants, it is all the more impressive if a club wins the title several times. All the more so when the title is prolonged. The only club that has pulled off this trick (twice) is Sevilla.
Sevilla is therefore the club with the most Europa League titles (6). Between 2013 and 2016, they managed to win the title three times in a row. This earned them a real Europa League cup in their trophy cabinet. Normally a team gets a replica, only at 5 titles or 3 consecutive titles you get the real cup.
In the 1990s it was mostly Italian clubs that ran away with the title, but since the turn of the century Spain has been dominant in the Europa League. Therefore, keep an eye on teams like Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Villarreal, Valencia when betting.
The players, the coaches, the clubs; the excitement!
The UEFA Champions League Final is the most watched annual event of the year, with a record in 2012-2013 when Borussia Dortmund faced of Bayern Munich. A total of 360 million people watched the match and a lot of them placed a bet as well! The most successful team (by a stretch) is of course Real Madrid with 13 wins so far and an unprecedented 3 in a row. Number two is Milan and has only seven titles! English teams have always been strongly represented at the Champions League.
So have the English bookmakers and betters! Only during the period of 1986 and 1991, when English teams were banned for Hooliganism, relative unknown teams like PSV, Red Star Belgrade and Steaua Bucharest saw an opportunity to win! The absolute star of the Champions League is without a doubt Ronaldo. He has won the competition five times already scoring in three of the finals for two different teams. This year, he tries to get his sixth title with Juventus. If he succeeds, he will place himself besides Clarence Seedorf who has been the only one so far to win the title with three different teams.
With 197 participants, an outright winner bet is a very big gamble. Still, we can make a clear cut list of clubs that do have a chance of winning one. Almost all winners of the last 20 years are from Spain or England. That is already a good shuffle. However, there is a big difference between teams from the Premier League and teams from the Primera Division.
The big Premier League clubs take their national competition more seriously than the Europa League. With teams like Villarreal, Sevilla and Valencia, this is not the case. Here, first places are by definition given away by Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The Europa League is simply taken more seriously. No B teams, no experimental playing systems; Spanish clubs are the most reliable outright winner bets.
With so many strikers, it seems impractical to bet on the tournament’s top scorer. Still, you can make it easy on yourself by setting up a few parameters on which you rate strikers (and their club).
For instance, you can write off all players at clubs that have not consistently played the group stage in the past five years. Ideally, you will draw this line even further until the quarter or semi-finals. Keep in mind that there are clubs entering from the Champions League in the eighth final, but these strikers therefore have six fewer games to score.
Via this reasoning, X number of clubs remain. Next, judge the strikers on their national performances. How well do they do in other competitions? Are they always in the starting line-up? It is not always the best player or the biggest name that becomes top scorer, but the most consistent player.
Incubator of success
Whereas the Champions League is about established clubs with a great history, the UEFA Europa League is about creating the new clubs of the future. One example is the qualification rule via fair-play, which allows three clubs that have shown you can play at the highest level without fouls.
This does sometimes give the odd situation of teams at the bottom of the league table making it to this European competition. We don’t recommend betting on them… Unless you bet on zero yellow cards that is!
The price money in the Europa League doesn’t come close to that of the CL, but it still runs in the millions for those who make it far in the tournament. That this can be a crazy tournament is proven by the list of winners. There is absolutely no saying who will win the trophy. You know what that means; great odds!
So much for the Europa League. Want to know more about other leagues, such as the biggest League in Europe? Then Premier League Betting is for you.
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The UEFA Europa League, previously known as the UEFA Cup, was first held in the 1971-1972 season.
The UEFA Europa League is considered a secondary club competition to the UEFA Champions League, with teams that finish lower in their respective leagues qualifying for the tournament.
Sevilla FC holds the record for the most UEFA Europa League titles, having won the tournament multiple times.
The “Three-Peat” achievement refers to a club winning the UEFA Europa League title for three consecutive seasons.
The “Inter-Cities Fairs Cup” was a precursor to the UEFA Europa League, featuring club teams from cities participating in trade fairs. It paved the way for modern European club competitions.