The groups for the UEFA Europa League have been drawn and we have some exciting encounters to look forward to. But who are the top five contenders? FOX Sports Asia takes a look.
#1 Manchester United
Traditional heavyweights United are in the mix to claim the Europa League – especially considering that none of Europe’s elites feature in this edition, bar Arsenal.
As the old saying goes, Manchester United are just one loss away from crisis – something they are in the midst of right now after their latest loss against Palace at home. Also, with Lukaku and Sanchez gone, their front-line looks as thin as it has ever been since.
With Manchester United, however, the name is enough and make no bones about it, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team will be amongst those challenging for the trophy come the latter half of the season.
#2 AS Roma
An Italian giant who, like Arsenal and United have been relegated to Europe’s second-tier, Roma will look to the Europa League as a real opportunity to claim silverware.
With the Seria A more competitive than ever, it also represents an alternate route to the Champions League, something that might come into play depending on how the season shapes up. Paulo Fonseca’s experience and tactical nous is another factor that might come into play – the Portuguese coming into the job after a fantastic 3-year spell at Shakhtar. Another real heavyweight in this season’s competition.
Last season’s runners up will be looking to erase the bad memories this time around as Unai Emery continues his North London revolution.
The Gunners would have preferred the Champions League this season but nonetheless, this is a welcome opportunity to get rid of the lingering disappointment from last season’s defeat in the finals against Chelsea. The league will be their priority but come mid-season if they are too far off the pace, don’t be surprised if they put all eggs in the Europa League basket – seeking a back-door Champions League entry.
#4 FC Porto
Porto are as dark a horse in the tournament as there ever has been and no one can really predict how far they’ll end up going. A team with a long and beautiful history in the Europa League – 2003’s win with Jose Mourinho represents one of the competition’s most romantic stories, after which it took them 8 years to claim the trophy again, ending their wait in 2011.
It’s been exactly 8 years since then and after their league disappointment last season, it might be time to repeat history – once again.
Sevilla are to the Europa League what Real Madrid are to the Champions League.
Like Madrid, the Spaniards claimed three titles on a trot from 2014-2016 and their history constantly makes them up their game when the going gets tough. Their demolition of Liverpool in the finals (2015-16) showed they are not merely flat-track bullies and can match up to the best. Truth be told, they can beat all the teams listed above on their day. One to watch out for!