Lyon look the pick as it’s ABU in Europa League – Anybody but United

Europe's 'second' tournament could hold a few surprises in the closing stages
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Manchester United are the commanding 6-4 favourites for the Europa League with bet365. OK the Reds have what looks on paper an easy tie against Anderlecht in the quarterfinal. However, tougher challenges lie ahead in the last four and in the final, should Jose Mourinho’s side make it that far. You can make your own mind up whether the 6-4 price is value, but for me it’s one to steer well clear of. Mou’s men have simply drawn too many games this season, regularly failing to ram home any advantage. See the scrappy 1-0 home win in the round-of-sixteen against unfancied Rostov for further evidence.

 

But Mou clearly feels winning the Champions League’s poorer relation is his side’s best chance of sealing qualification for the big one. United, steeped in a proud European history, have never bagged the Europa League or its forerunner the UEFA Cup. Sir Alex Ferguson would have considered the Europa League beneath him.

I can only assume the bookies have been swayed by United having the “Special One” in charge, while their top scoring talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic also has realistic dreams of playing in the Europa League final at home in Stockholm in May.

Sevilla are the defending champions, winning a fifth title in 11 years when they comfortably defeated Liverpool in last season’s final. Therefore, as the only La Liga side left in the competition, underrated Celta Vigo must be respected. Spanish sides have simply dominated UEFA competitions in recent years. Unfashionable Vigo are an attractive 8-1 with betbright to continue the fine work of Seville in this competition. Certainly, Vigo are much more value for me than the 6-4 on United.

German contender Schalke only scraped into last eight after some kind refereeing from Mark Clattenburg gifted the Royal Blues a debatable penalty decision, enabling them to edge past fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach on away goals.

At 8-1 Schalke are decent value looking to salvage a season, which started with five successive Bundesliga defeats. Markus Weinzierl’s men have improved of late and must be favourites to progress against former European Cup winners Ajax who are 14-1 with William Hill.

Outsiders Genk and Anderlecht are available at 40-1 in places. You have to expect both Belgian sides to say goodbye in the last eight against higher calibre opposition.

No team fancies the hostile atmosphere in Istanbul, but Besiktas at 16-1 will find it tough to keep a lively Lyon side at bay over the two legs. Lyon are second favourites behind United at 10-3 with skybet. Memphis Depay, a former United flop, is playing his trade for the Ligue Une side, but can’t come back to haunt Mourinho in this comp as he is cup tied. Expect highly-rated striker Alexandre Lacazette to fire Lyon all the way to the final, before heading to the Premier League at the end of the season.

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