Liverpool remain favourites to win the Europa League

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Liverpool qualified fairly easily for the knockout stage of the Europa League, finishing one point ahead of Toulouse to claim top spot in Group E.

Four victories ensured they progressed straight to the round of 16, although away defeats against Toulouse and Union Saint-Gilloise scuppered the Reds’ hopes of staying unbeaten in the competition.

Despite those losses, Liverpool are the favourites with leading online bookmakers to lift the prestigious trophy at the end of the season.

One of the Reds’ mainstays in their Europa League journey has been Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who has started five of their six games in the tournament.

The club’s sizeable Irish fanbase have been keeping a close eye on their progress as the 25-year-old has started in goal ahead of Alisson Becker. His presence in the team has sparked enthusiasm on betting sites, with Liverpool rated as 3.25 shots to win the Europa League.

However, punters will be hoping that manager Jurgen Klopp restores Alisson to the starting XI in the knockout stages, particularly given the strength of the competition.

The same point applies to forward Mo Salah, who started just twice during the group stage. He remains Liverpool’s main attacking threat, acting as a goalscorer and creator this season.

Despite mostly appearing off the bench in their Europa League games, the Egyptian bagged three goals. He has also notched 11 goals and seven assists in 16 Premier League matches.

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Leverkusen Head List of Europa League Contenders

While top bookmakers in the United Kingdom and Ireland are tipping Liverpool to win the Europa League, several other teams have a genuine chance of emerging victorious.

They include Bayer Leverkusen, who have been in unstoppable former under former Reds midfielder Xabi Alonso. Die Werkself emerged from Group H with a faultless record.

Leverkusen have been flying high this season and are priced at odds of 6.50 to win the prestigious title for only the second time in their history after claiming the UEFA Cup in 1988.

The German club has been derided for their bad luck after finishing as Bundesliga runners-up five times without ever winning the title. They have also been runners-up three times in the DFB-Pokal, once in the DFB Supercup and once in the Champions League.

Serie A giants AC Milan are another team who could be dangerous after dropping from the Champions League into the Europa League. They have automatically become one of the top betting contenders for the trophy.

The Rossoneri were drawn in the so-called ‘group of death’ in the Champions League alongside Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund.

Milan looked like they were destined to leave empty-handed but picked up a crucial win against the Magpies at St James’ Park to secure third place in the group and a spot in the Europa League.

The seven-time European champions have never previously won the Europa League but will fancy their chances of going all the way.

Evan Ferguson in action during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and West Ham United at American Express Community Stadium on August 26, 2023 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

West Ham United are also through to the next round and aiming to pick up a second consecutive European trophy after clinching the Europa Conference League title last season.

David Moyes’ side secured qualification to the next round early but had to contend with SC Freiburg for top spot in their group. The Hammers got the job done, cruising to a 2-0 win over the Bundesliga side on the final matchday thanks to goals from summer signings Mohammed Kudus and Edson Alvarez.

Kudus will be crucial for West Ham as they enter the knockout stage. The Ghanaian is hitting top form at just the right time and should play a pivotal role in their campaign.

Brighton & Hove Albion also made it to the knockout phase in their first-ever European campaign and will be hungry to go even further in the tournament. The Seagulls pipped Marseille to top spot in their group thanks to Joao Pedro’s 11th goal for the club since signing for them this summer.

Roberto De Zerbi’s side have fought hard to come this far and will not go out easily as they look to accomplish something special in their maiden European adventure.

However, while Liverpool undoubtedly face plenty of serious rivals in the Europa League, they look a good bet to get the job done and deliver a winning return to sports bettors.

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