The Europa league is the second tier continental tournament that often throws up some of the leading clubs in the world. The list of former champions reveals a host of legendary clubs and offers many sides a chance at cup glory and provides relief for supporters and management alike.
The Euro Champions League is the obvious intended destination for all major teams across the continent but the Europe competition offers a chance at redemption – with many world-class sides competing year in and year out in a similar format to the Champs League. Clubs can qualify for the tourney through high place finishes in their respective domestic leagues, as well as for winning each country’s major cup competition.
Once qualifiers are dispensed with, the tournament moves into the group stages, comprising the best teams not to have qualified for the highest European honour.
The matches are played every Thursday evening and each side will take on a group opponent six times (home and away). The top two teams out of four in each group move to the knock-out stage.
The early rounds of this cup get underway before many leagues start their new campaigns, normally around the middle of June each season.
The preliminary rounds are followed first, second and third qualifiers respectively before moving on to the play-off round.
The group stage starts after that, with a last 32 qualifying for knockout phase.
The favourites for the 2018/19 Europa Cup are Chelsea and they can be backed at 6/1 to lift the trophy while London rivals Arsenal are second favourites at 7/1.
Spanish outfit Sevilla at 14/1 and French Ligue 1 club Marseilles (14/1) are other title contenders according to leading bookmakers.
There are decent outside bets to be enjoyed by punters with Zenit offered an attractive 33/1 to lift the prestigious title.
Anderlecht are another side capable of going deep into the tournament and at 50/1 many bettors may fancy a flutter.
Lazio and Bayer Leverkusen are also well-priced at 20/1 and could earn a punter a tidy sum, should they progress all the way to the final.
The most successful club in the competition’s history is Spanish La Liga outfit Sevilla, having bagged five titles in this format.
The defending champions are another Spain side, Atletico Madrid – who defeated Marseilles in last campaign’s final.
There have been 28 different winners over the years, with 12 clubs having won the trophy more than once.
If a side qualifies for the tourney by winning both a cup and a qualifying league spot, then the vacant space will be filled by the top placed team not qualified in the highest league – eg La Liga or EPL.
In the 2009/10 season a further eight teams were added to the roster with 12 groups emerging of four teams each. An added incentive for fans, sponsors and clubs is that in the knockout phase eight teams that have not progressed in the Champions league will qualify for a spot in the knockout stages of the Europa League Cup.
Liverpool boast the joint second best record in the format with three wins, with Juventus and Inter Milan also lifting the trophy on three occasions.
Atletico Madrid and Tottenham Hotspurs have each picked up a brace of titles.
With regard to national success as a country Spain leads the way with a combined 11 trophies, Italy are in second place with nine – followed by England with eight previous champions.
The Cup winners also automatically qualify for the Champions League and this campaign Atletico have done so by their second place La Liga finish as well. This means that an extra space is made for another team.
The winners of the Europa League take on the winners of the Champions League in a UEFA Super Cup and this is also a terrific opportunity for fans, bettors and sponsors to add further silverware.
The team allocation is interesting, with Associations ranked 1-51 each having three teams qualified.
Associations 52-54 each have two clubs in the tournament while Liechtenstein and Kosovo each have one representative.
Also 55 teams that did not make it through the 18/19 Champions League qualifiers also go into the draw.
This is one European competition that bettors can get an early taste of action, with many of the top leagues only starting six weeks later. Many of these matches will be used in various pools and jackpots around the globe due to the timing of the fixtures.
The Europa Cup is often seen as a last-chance at glory for many leading clubs and thus the knockout phases of the tournament proper sees legendary clubs fighting hard for much-needed silverware.