European competitions can be very tough to bet on, the Europa League even more so than the Champions League, in my opinion. To some extent it depends what you bet on, some markets are more reliable and easier to predict than others. However, with such a mix of quality in this competition it can be very hard to predict match results. Huge travel times and hostile atmospheres are also aplenty, so hopefully this guide can help you navigate some of the pitfalls.
Home advantage is huge in European competition and the difference between playing at home/away can drastically effect how a team approaches a game. Their game plan or even squad could change considerably dependant on the venue.
Many of the sides playing in the Europa League from smaller countries often tend to have a very strong home record. I think of sides like Copenhagen, BATE and Apoel as examples of this. Some of these sides may not be the strongest but at home in front of raucous crowds they do tend to excel and many boast absolutely outrageous domestic home records. Apoel Nicosia managed to beat Spanish giants Sevilla in the group stages, BMG were smashed 4-0 by Austrian side Wolfsberger AC. These sides are a complete mis-match in terms of quality but home comforts can completely flip a game.
Personally, I’d be very wary of backing a team to win away from home, regardless of the level of which you perceive that team to be. You’d be safer opting for goals or maybe even backing the home underdog, this year’s competition saw a number of teams getting impressive home results. CFR Cluj beat Lazio, despite being thought of as the worst side in their group and to be honest they beat them relatively comfortably.
Also, some sides don’t meet the requirements set by UEFA for the quality of their stadium. Look at Atalanta in the UCL this season, they’ve had to play at the San Siro. Particularly in earlier rounds with smaller clubs, fans may struggle to travel to the nearest stadium that does meet the requirements so bare this in mind.
When looking through the games, consider the home team’s record and how big this game is for them. Lots of smaller European clubs will sell out their ground for their home games in this competition, consider the distance the away team has to travel and the importance of the game to them. Does the away side need a result? Have they already secured qualification? Do they have a big league game after this tie?
Consider the situation
In the early rounds of the Europa League, we absolutely smashed the in-play bets on them. As they were absolutely perfect for another goal, especially the second legs. You’ve got to consider how the tie is poised, one side will be left needing to chase a goal sooner or later and with the away goals rule too, it could lead to the game opening up and there being a great chance of another match goal.
You can apply this theory pre match as well, if a side is going in to a game needing a result you can expect a more open tie than one where the teams are deadlocked. If a side grabs an early goal, the whole complexion of the game changes. Again this is where you often need to apply some of your own football knowledge. In my opinion goals betting is the way to go as this negates some of the unpredictability. It’s hardly full proof but you can definitely find more consistency than by using other markets.
Outright betting on the Europa League
Now this can be an absolute minefield, I’ve seen a lot of people’s outrights this season and most have chosen to leave the Europa League out. It’s unpredictable nature is one reason as well as its lower status meaning some sides don’t take it as seriously but also the competition level fluctuates throughout.
Firstly, the competition begins to take on more or less importance for teams dependant on how their league campaigns are going. Some may get to a point where their league campaign becomes the key focus, so long trips abroad are far from ideal and they may rotate players. Some sides may struggle in the league, which means success in Europe becomes their best route back in to the competition.
Also you’ve got the fact that sides who go out of the Champions League will enter in to the Europa League. So some huge sides could possibly pop up in the tournament in later rounds which you couldn’t have factored in to an outright bet.
Stay within your comfort zone
I always mention doing your research before betting. I absolutely advise to avoid betting on teams/competitions that you don’t know anything about. Don’t go placing a bet on a Europa League qualifying game when you can’t even name the country it’s being played in. There are some very obscure and far afield clubs taking part, if you don’t feel confident then just don’t bet on it – this is particularly applicable to the earlier rounds of the competition.
You should still apply all your normal betting rules to the Europa League, this guide is just a few suggestions on extra things to consider that maybe you wouldn’t need to factor in with a bet on a domestic league. Make sure you’re confident in what you’re betting and have conducted the due diligence in choosing your bet. The Europa League can be wildly unpredictable so I recommend keeping stake small and looking to build your pot through the competition.