Coral’s ex-Premier League stars playing in the Europa League XI
The Europa League gets a bad press, because it’s a competition most teams don’t want to be in. Clubs harbour Champions League ambitions and sometimes have to settle for second best in European continental competition.
It doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t quality players on show on Thursday nights. Coral’s football experts got thinking which ex-Premier League stars are presently on show in the Europa League? Here’s the all-star XI we came up with:
Goalkeeper: Craig Gordon
Celtic stopper Gordon holds the distinction of being Britain’s most expensive goalie ever. His outstanding displays for Sunderland and Scotland were curtailed by injury, but he is now rebuilding his career with the Glasgow giants. The Bhoys are 2/1 to keep a clean sheet away at Romanian side Astra Giurgiu.
Right back: Jose Bosingwa
Ex-Portugal attacking outlet Bosingwa won the Champions League with both Porto and Chelsea, but is now playing Europa League football with Turkish team Trabzonspor. He also lifted the Premier League in 2009/10 during his stint at Stamford Bridge.
Centre back: Micah Richards
Still on Manchester City’s books, Richards is enjoying a loan spell in Serie A with Fiorentina. A Premier League winner at the Etihad back in 2011/12, this defensive powerhouse is comfortable at right back or centre half, so we slotted him in the latter position.
Centre back: Nemanja Vidic
Five Premier League titles for no-nonsense Serbia rock Vidic helped to maintain Manchester United’s success during the later years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford tenure. He is now at Inter Milan, and they are 14/1 joint-favourites to win the Europa League this term.
Left back: Yuri Zhirkov
He may have only played 48 times for Chelsea, but Russian left-footer Zhirkov scooped a Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010 to complete a back four of English top-flight winners.
Defensive midfield: Gary Medel
Fiery Chilean anchorman Medel was nicknamed ‘Pitbull’ after feorcious displays for Europa League holders Sevilla. He was a bright spark in a dismal Premier League campaign for Cardiff City last season, but has now moved on to Inter.
Central midfield: Jonathan de Guzman
Two solid seasons in Swansea City’s engine room make Canada-born Netherlands international De Guzman a lock for inclusion. His box-to-box abilities have been recognised by Napoli boss Rafa Benitez, and the Spaniard has brought JDG to Serie A permanently from previous parent club Villarreal. De Guzman is 9/4 to net anytime against Swiss side Young Boys Berne.
Right wing: Gerard Deulofeu
Ex-Everton loanee Deulofeu is owned by Barcelona, but has been sent out again from the Nou Camp, this time to competition holders Sevilla. He showed so much promise at Goodison Park, so why not back him to net anytime against Standard Liege at 6/4?
Attacking midfield: Michu
Swansea star Michu is widely considered to be the Premier League’s best bargain buy of modern times. Although injuries hampered him last term, his maiden campaign in England saw him score for fun. Now on loan at Napoli, here’s hoping compatriot Benitez can get him back to his best.
Left wing: Jose Antonio Reyes
Cast your minds back a decade and you may remember a young Spanish speedster romping down the wing for Arsenal. Many say Reyes’ career peaked as part of ‘The Invincibles’ that took the 2003/04 Premier League title back to Highbury, but he has since played for both Real and Atletico Madrid, and is now with Sevilla, who are 14/1 joint-favourites to retain the Europa League.
Striker: Demba Ba
Leading the line of our all-star XI is former West Ham United, Newcastle United and Chelsea frontman Ba. The Senegal striker netted 43 times in one shy of 100 Premier League appearances, but is now at Besiktas.