Jose Mourinho's former and current clubs both highly expected to win the inaugural final in Albania next May
The first ever edition of the UEFA Europa Conference League may not seem like the most glamorous of midweek European competitions to be a part of, because it isn't, but it will certainly offer more entertainment than it's currently being given credit for in the football press. The Europa League was rubbished in its inception and just a few short years later the final is usually contested by clubs the size of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Atletico Madrid with fans and players alike more than invested in winning the trophy. While the UECL is a step below as Europe's third tier tournament, it still has a lot to offer, and make no mistake, while many fans will mock it now, come next May they will be hoping their side brings the trophy home. Only one club can, and we've decided to take a look at which are most likely to do it.
All odds are from Bet365 sportsbook
Tottenham Hotspur (6/1 Joint Favourites)
Spurs enjoyed a positive start to the season under new coach Nuno Espirito Santo, winning their first three league games 1-0, including an opening day victory over champions Manchester City. However, back-to-back 3-0 defeats against Crystal Palace and Chelsea have dampened the mood a little. They opened their European campaign proper with a 2-2 draw away at Rennes. The result can be viewed in two ways, depending on how highly you rate the opposition. The French side are themselves joint second favourites and Spurs also have another recognisable name in their group in Vitesse Arnhem from the Eredivisie. After facing Wolves in the EFL Cup and a North London Derby at the Emirates, Tottenham will play their second UECL group game as they welcome NS Mura from Slovenia. At 500/1, only Lincoln Red Imps are rated lower in the tournament and this will surely be a match the Premier League side must convincingly win. Despite a rocky couple of weeks, everyone expects Nuno's team to go far and anything but a place in the final would likely be seen as a failure by fans. With the talent they have in the squad and having kept Harry Kane at the club, Spurs should be dominating games in this tournament.
AS Roma (6/1 Joint Favourites)
I Giallorossi are enjoying the typical Mourinho honeymoon period and were sitting pretty at the top of the Serie A table until falling to a disappointing 3-2 defeat to Verona at the weekend. They had previously won their last six on the bounce, three in the league and three in the Conference League, including a two legged play-off. New signing Tammy Abraham seems to have fitted right in, and despite the usual criticism of their new coach's style, they are scoring goals for fun and certainly entertaining their fans. Roma opened their account in this new European competition with a 5-1 demolition of CSKA Sofia which saw the Bulgarians reduced to ten men and Abraham on the scoresheet again. Mourinho has won everywhere he's been, apart from Spurs, with the very huge asterisk being the club's decision to sack him on the eve of last season's League Cup final. Having assembled what looks to be an exciting squad and with no real threat in their group, the Italians should progress having expended very little energy and will be expecting to go deep in the competition.
It's been a less than perfect start to the Ligue 1 season for Rennes, who have managed to pick up just five points from six games and are languishing in 16th place in the table. They have lost their last three league games, all by a 2-0 scoreline, and have scored just three goals in those opening six encounters. The team will have been pleased with the point they took from Spurs in the Conference League but will hope that their participation in the competition doesn't affect their already poor domestic form too negatively. As the side who finished 6th in the French top flight last season, and with a squad boasting some exciting attacking talent like Mbaye Niang and Jérémy Doku, the latter of whom impressed in the summer for Belgium at Euro 2020, Rennes are right up there with a chance of winning their first major European trophy, according to bookmakers.
Having finished fifth in last season's Dutch Eredivisie, it may come as a surprise to learn that Feyenoord are joint second favourites with Rennes to lift the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy. AZ Alkmaar and Vitesse Arnhem, teams they finished behind in the league last season, are given less chance by bookmakers. It could be down to historical name value, or a decent summer transfer window in which the club brought in Iranian winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh from Brighton and English forward Reiss Nelson on loan from Arsenal, among many others. Confidence in the Dutch outfit won't have been damaged by how they have begun their domestic campaign, winning three in four, including hammering PSV 4-0, in a game which featured two goals from captain Jens Toornstra. PSV are currently second in the table, finished second last season, and humbling them in such a way can only give Feyenoord fans confidence that this great old club can win European silverware again for the first time since their UEFA Cup triumph in 2002.
These are the four favourites but by no means the only clubs in the mix with a chance of winning the first ever UEFA Europa Conference League. Many of these clubs have a lot of Champions League and Europa League experience, have played on the biggest stage and have experienced players desperate to win a European trophy. The likes of Basel, Copenhagen, Slavia Prague and Union Berlin will be more than in with a shout come the knockout stages.
You can watch most of these sides play in their own domestic leagues for free via live streaming with Bet 365. You can watch Roma battle it out with the giants of Serie A, Rennes play against the likes of PSG in Ligue 1, Feyenoord as they look to break Ajax's dominance of the Eredivisie and many, many more games from across Europe's top leagues. Terms and conditions apply.
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