- The draw for the 2021 UEFA Europa League round-of-16 has been completed
- Manchester United are favorites to win the trophy but face a tricky tie against AC Milan in the last 16
- We’ll list the odds for the winners and also look for some value bets
The draw for the 2021 UEFA Europa League round-of-16 was made earlier today. The top three in the betting are all from the English Premier League with Manchester United at +325, Tottenham at +450, and Arsenal at +550. The best of the rest is Ajax at +900 Europa League odds.
We will look to see if the favorites are still a good bet, if there is a longshot worth betting on, and where the value lies.
UEFA Europa League 2020-21 Odds
Odds from DraftKings taken Feb 26
Zlatan Reunited with United
Manchester United has been installed as favorites but will not have things all their own way in a round-of-16 tie with AC Milan, which brings with it a reunion with former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. While United’s progression to this round was very straightforward, with a comfortable 4-0 win over Real Sociedad in leg one and 0-0 draw in leg two, Milan is a club with a big name and with a fine European heritage.
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????️ It’s been 4️⃣ years since @Ibra_Official headed home the winner at Wembley! ????#MUFC #GoalOfTheDay pic.twitter.com/s8fcLKDfs7
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 26, 2021
The Ibrahimovic factor adds another dynamic to the tie and even at 39-years-old, the Swede is a big game player and will relish this opportunity to put one over his former employees. AC Milan’s route to the round-of-16 was tougher than United’s and they only edged past Red Star Belgrade on away goals, but with the second-leg in Milan, much will depend on United taking a lead to Italy. If United can get through, the competition could be theirs to win, which would be their first success in this competition since 2017 when Ibrahimovic was in the team.
Interestingly, United has a poor record against Milan in European competition and has been eliminated in four of their last five European knockout ties against the Italians.
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Best game? ????#UELdraw pic.twitter.com/LlPsMyZjgo
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) February 26, 2021
Hope of Silverware in North London
Arsenal, under Mikel Arteta, has enjoyed more success in Europe than in the Premier League but have found life tough this season in general and were just three minutes away from being eliminated by Benfica on Thursday night. In the end. it was an 87th-minute goal from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the Emirates that saw the Gunners through from a topsy-turvy tie which they eventually won 4-3. Their reward was a last-16 tie against Olympiakos of Greece. Like Milan, the Gunners have pedigree in Europe and the last-16 draw has been kind to them, especially as they are away in the first leg. At +550 to win the competition they are worth following.
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— Arsenal (@Arsenal) February 25, 2021
Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham had a more-than-comfortable passage through to the round-of-16 with an emphatic 8-1 win over Wolfsberger; a continuation of some good European form that has been in stark contrast to the troubled winter they have endured in the EPL. In the last 16 they have been pitched against Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb, and, like Arsenal, have been afforded the advantage of playing the first leg away from home.
Also on the plus side, Spurs’ manager Jose Mourinho has a good record in this competition and was in charge of Manchester United’s 2017 triumph. With their EPL campaign looking unlikely to produce a top-four finish, winning this season’s Europa League is Tottenham’s only realistic route into next season’s Champions League, meaning they will be throwing everything at this competition.
???????? Our #UEL last 16 opponents are @gnkdinamo! #THFC ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/mIIHcZOGHj
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 26, 2021
Ignore Ajax at Your Peril
Ajax, as the fourth favorite, is also well and truly in the hunt and their round-of-16 draw with Switzerland’s Young Boys will only add to their belief they can win this competition. Their exit from the Champions League will have gone down badly in Amsterdam – a competition in which they were semifinalists in 2019. They will see that as an opportunity for silverware, with a squad constructed for the bigger of the two European competitions. At +900 they offer the value.
Roma and Villarreal both have winnable ties against Ukrainian opposition – Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kyiv respectively – and will be confident of progressing. At +1100 and +1200, they are both in the race, especially if they progress to the last eight and then get favorable ties.
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— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) February 26, 2021
Europa League Value and Best Bet
For an interesting outsider, look no further than Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, who are so far unbeaten in this season’s Scottish Premiership. The Gers have been able to take this good form into the Europa League and a last-16 tie against Slavia Prague gives them a genuine chance of making it to the last eight. From there, anything is possible with the help of a couple of good draws.
These ties will take place on March 11 and March 18 with venues dictated by the travel restrictions across Europe.
So, Manchester United are favorites for a reason but their tie of the round against AC Milan represents a significant hurdle. Both north London clubs will see this as a viable route to next season’s Champions League, but at +900 to win the Europa League, Ajax looks great value.
Pick: Ajax to win the Europa League (+900)