Juventus have the incentive to go all the way in Europa League
The Europa League betting looks very, very different following the conclusion of the group phases of both that competition and the Champions League this week.
Spurs have been Coral’s market leaders since the word go in the Thursday tournament, but have now been replaced as favourites by Juventus (5/1), one of the eight teams relegated from the Champions League after finishing third in their group.
Spurs hold on to second favouritism at 7/1, but the first page of the list is dominated by other teams joining in, including Napoli (9/1), Shakhtar Donetsk (14/1) and the two Portuguese clubs Benfica and Porto (both 16/1).
Spurs shouldn’t have an inferiority complex with any of these sides. Indeed, with such strength in depth in his squad, Andre Villas-Boas has every reason to be optimistic that they can go all the way in a competition White Hart Lane has always had a soft spot for – they won the inaugural playing of it in 1972 (when called the UEFA Cup) and also held the trophy aloft in 1984. Spain’s three strongest sides have made it through to the Champions League knock-out stages, leaving Seviila and Valencia, both mid-table, flying the flag for La Liga. And there’s nothing to worry about from Germany with all four of their best teams also qualifying for the last 16. Shakhtar Donetsk, Europa League winners in 2009, looked a decent outfit against Manchester United and could be troublesome, while Ajax (20/1) can be a force at this level. But the country with the teams offering the biggest threat to Spurs (and 25/1 shots Swansea if they can find some form in the New Year) is Italy.
Juventus, who just failed to make it through a tough Champions League group, currently lead Serie A, while third-placed Napoli will be itching for some meaningful compensation after incredibly missing out with 12 points. Fiorentina (12/1) and Lazio (20/1), fifth and 12th respectively in their domestic league, are also in the mix. So much depends on how players react after being thrown out of the Big Boys’ bash. Some might just not be up for this lesser prize – they will make all the right noises, but it just won’t mean as much to them. Juventus, though, do have the additional incentive of the final being played on their own ground and you can’t imagine the Old Lady turning her nose up at that invitation. So in the end it’s hard to argue with the new market; if Spurs are to get their hands on some European silverware next May they will probably have to get past Juventus along the way.