If you’re a football fan who is bored on Thursday night’s fear not, this year’s Europa league shows no shortage of talent and is packed full of champions league quality and potential crackers. That said, only one of the 32 teams left can be crowned as the second-in-command of European football, so here’s our pick for the 5 top challengers.
5. Inter Milan
Currently sitting third in Serie A, the Nerazzuri are the dark horse of the tournament. Star player Mauro Icardi is one of the best players in Italy and is Inter’s top scorer in all competitions with 15 goals. They also have world cup finalist Ivan Perisic who showed how dangerous he can be in the summer with Croatia. Inter have fallen from being traditionally a powerhouse in Europe, but they do a have good a chance of winning this competition. Inter fans would hope they add a long-awaited arrival into an impressive trophy cabinet this May.
Earlier in the season Sevilla were doing surprisingly well, neck and neck in the league with Barcelona and looking strong. However, in the last while they have gone down in form and gone back to their usual spot in fourth, and are still licking their wounds after blowing a 2-0 lead to Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey to lose 6-3 on Aggregate. Their striker Wissam Ben Yedder has scored 18 goals in all competitions so far this season and their captain Jesus Navas has vast amounts of experience with 650 professional games under his belt, making them one to watch.
Arsenal’s form has been very much win-lose, win-lose as of late. Things looked shaky when they lost 1-0 against BATE Borisov in the first leg of the round of 32, but with the second leg in London, they should progress with reasonable ease. In goal, they have a wealth of experience in Petr Cech who has pretty much everything in club football, and at the other end of the pitch Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a proven goal scorer and has scored over a quarter of Arsenal’s Premier League goals this season
Napoli are a contender in this competition despite their dip in form. So far, this season they are second in Serie A, and having played Champions League football earlier in the season can be a threat in this tournament. Guided by Carlo Ancellotti, one of the most successful managers in Europe and with Ardkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens scoring and assisting goals at will this season, they have everything a champion needs.
Chelsea are our favourites to win the Europa League, with the best players on paper and a good record in the tournament. They haven’t been having the best run of form in domestic football recently, having lost 4-0 to Bournemouth and 6-0 to Man City. However, you have to look at the quality of their players; Eden Hazard easily one of the best players in the world today, and Pedro is experienced players when it comes to big European games, (Three Champions League medals is no mean feat.)
Photo credit: Union of European Football Associations