Top 5 favourites to win the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League
European football is returning next week, with clubs across the continent focusing their attention back to both the Champions League and the Europa League. This year the difference in quality between the two competitions are very close, the Europa League is arguably looking the strongest it has ever been in terms of competition since the format of this competition.
Manchester United won last season's Europa League title and there was very little to no draw to the competition from a fan's point of view. With the stature and money spent, the club would have at least expected to win this prize and the standard of competition from other teams was not as high last year.
This year, however, it is strong, with the teams dropping into the knockout stages from the Champions League and a host of clubs who have competed from the start of the draw. There are a host of clubs who will consider themselves in the mix to win the competition.
The Champions League is the pinnacle of football across Europe, every player wants to play and compete on the top level, but the Europa League this season will not be as far from the quality of the Champions League, as it has been for many years now.
To win the competition this season would be a fantastic achievement for any of the thirty-two clubs in the draw. There has been a lot said about the structure of the Europa League over the years, and perhaps it does need to be assessed, but the competition is exciting this season and to see the top clubs competing in the competition makes for a compelling few months ahead.
Who then, are the 5 favourites to win the Europa League?
#1 Atletico Madrid
The La Liga outfit would have to be considered the early favourites to win the competition outright. Diego Simeone's men are currently second on the La Liga table, nine points behind runaway leaders Barcelona and ten points ahead of Real Madrid, so the Europa League is a real opportunity for Simeone to bring silverware to the Wanda Metropolitano.
This is an Atletico team that has been in two of the last four Champions League finals, so this team knows how to play in the knockout stages of European football very well. The last 32 round will match the club against FC Kobenhavn of Denmark, a tie which will prove difficult but ultimately one that you would expect the Spanish club to win.
With the quality that Simeone has in this current team, he might still be able to rotate strongly until the competition gets tighter and we should still be expected to see their star players in action.
Antoine Griezmann will be the catalyst to the success this team has, and with Diego Costa available to play in the forward line, the Madrid side will be a very daunting proposition for any team they face. With quality players such as Saul Niguez, Yannick Carrasco and Jan Oblak to name just a few, this is a squad and a manager more than capable of bringing success to the club and their fans.