The Europa League is typically the competition that many of the big clubs look to avoid, as playing on Thursday evenings often hampers domestic form. However, Villarreal’s success in the competition last season highlights that the tournament still holds a special place in the hearts of clubs around Europe, as they are still celebrating a first-ever European success.
That begs the question – could this season have a surprising Europa League winner? Let’s find out!
Surprise Europa League Winner Potential
Villarreal were the underdogs throughout that competition, and there have been countless miracle runs in the Europa League. But, which sides could cause a shock in the competition this season?
- West Ham United- +1600
Group H Opponents- Genk, Rapid Wien, Dinamo Zagreb
David Moyes has done a phenomenal job at the London Stadium, despite not being the first choice of many fans to take over as manager. Every signing that Moyes has made throughout his two-year stint has worked tremendously well, and they are certainly on a side on an upward trajectory. The Hammers are playing in Europe this season for the first time since the 2016-17 season, but on that occasion, they failed to reach the group stage.
West Ham should be considered one of the best chances of winning the competition this season, as they have been in fantastic form over the past two years, and have an excellent defensive record. Further evidence of that was seen in their 2-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
- Lyon- +2000
Group A Opponents- Rangers, Sparta Prague, Brondby
Lyon have an excellent pedigree in European football, and that was evident when they reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019-20. They missed out on European football altogether last season, but they have returned for the 2021-22 campaign with Europa League ambitions.
While there have been a number of significant outgoings at the club over the summer, with the likes of Memphis Depay and Joachim Andersen departing, Lyon remain a side that should be taken very seriously in the competition this season.
The French giants still have proven quality at both ends of the pitch, with the returns Moussa Dembele following his loan spell at Atletico Madrid likely to be the man with the responsibility to put the ball in the net. Lyon will also look at the Europa League as a way to get back into the Champions League, as only the top three qualify automatically in Ligue 1.
- PSV- +4000
Group B Opponents- Monaco, Real Sociedad, Sturm Graz
There was excitement surrounding PSV at the start of the season, as they announced the signing of World Cup winner Mario Gotze. However, they weren’t able to reach the Champions League group stages after being beaten by Benfica in the playoff round.
The Europa League will be taken very seriously by the Dutch side this season, and they are certainly a club that are on the rise. They have started the new Eredivisie season in excellent form, winning all four games that they have played to date. Getting out of Group B is their first big challenge, as there is no shortage of quality sides that they need to see off.
PSV got their new European campaign underway with a 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad, with Gotze among the scorers. Noni Madueke is the player to watch this season for PSV, as the 19-year-old has already scored two goals in four games. The Englishman could play a big part if the Dutch giants are to win a first European honor since their Champions League success in 1987-88.
All odds taken from PointsBet