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The 2019/20 Europa League final between Sevilla and Inter Milan took place at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne just last month, but already the tournament is gearing up for the 2020/21 edition – which Arsenal are the favourites to win, according to the latest bet exchange. The tournament is currently at the third qualifying-round stage, but already some of Europe’s biggest teams are battling it out to reach next month’s Group Stages and be in with a chance of reaching the tail end of the competition. With that in mind, here’s our tips on which clubs will prevail through the remaining knockout ties, and reach the group stages. Read on to find out more!
Tottenham Hotspur made hard work of their second qualifying-round fixture against Bulgarian outfit Lokomotiv Plovdiv. Georgi Minchev’s header in the 71st minute gave Bruno Akrapović’s side a shock lead. However, with two players sent off soon after, Spurs striker Harry Kane levelled the scores from a penalty shot against the nine-men opposition, before Tanguy Ndombele sent Jose Mourinho’s side through with an 85th minute winner. The North London side will travel to Macedonia for what should be a straightforward clash with Shkëndija, before facing Rostov or Maccabi Haifa at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the final qualifying round.
Far from the European giants they once were, AC Milan started their Europa League qualifying journey against Irish side Shamrock Rovers. The Italian side dominated the game, and goals in either half, from Zlatan Ibrahimović and Hakan Çalhanoğlu, meant that the Milan side coasted to a 2-0 victory. A third-round fixture against Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt at the San Siro shouldn’t pose too much of a threat for Milan, whilst the winner of Beşiktaş vs Rio Ave will await the Italian side in the final play-off round.
After finishing a disappointing fourth in Portugal’s top-flight competition - the Primeira Liga - last year, Sporting Lisbon have been forced to make their way through the Europa League qualifying rounds if they want a shot at making it to the main competition. But now they know their path, we’re sure they’ll fancy their chances. The Leões will host Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen at the Estádio José Alvalade, before another home tie against the winners of LASK and Dunajská Streda.
German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg scored two goals in each half as they trashed Kukësi 4-0 in Albania last week and Die Wölfe will be confident of reaching the play-off stage, as they host Desna in the next round. Should they beat the Ukrainian’s, Wolfsburg will travel to either St. Gallen or AEK Athens for their final qualifying fixture, and they’ll be confident of beating whichever team stands in their way.
Since taking over Rangers, Steven Gerrard has become accustomed to guiding the Glasgow side through the qualifying stages, and last year they even got as far as the Round of 16. The Gers kicked off their qualifying campaign with a 5-0 trashing over Gibraltar side Lincoln Red Imps, but their remaining path to the group stages is far from easy. The Ibrox side will travel to the Netherland’s to face Willem II, who came fifth in last years Eredivisie, before hosting Turkish giants Galatasaray or Croatians Hajduk Split in Glasgow. Not the easiest of routes, but Steven Gerrard boasts an impressive record in Europe, and we think Rangers will feature in the group stages.
After being dumped from Champions League qualifying, following a shock defeat at home to Ferencváros, Scottish Champions Celtic will enter the Europa League qualifying rounds in the upcoming third round fixtures. The Hoops will travel to the Latvian capital to face Riga, before either facing Bosnian side Sarajevo or Montenegro outfit Budućnost Podgorica away from home in the play-offs.