The 53rd season of the UEFA Europa League has produced some impressive displays of football skill and tactics.
Managers no longer regard the competition as the loser’s version of the UEFA Champions League. They are going all out and giving Europe’s elite competition a run for their money.
The knockout phase of the competition starts on 15 February 2024. Teams are looking forward to putting up a great show as they chase a ticket to the final on 22 May 2024 at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland.
Who are the favorites to reach the final and win the 2023/24 Europa League?
Liverpool qualified for the round of 16 directly after topping their group with 12 points obtained from four wins and two losses.
They will next be in action in the Europa League on 7 March 2024. The draw for the round of 16 will happen on 23 February 2024 and one of the teams that qualified from the knockout playoffs will face the Reds.
You can get Liverpool tickets for their Europa League fixtures on the club’s websites and on Seatsnet.com.
Liverpool is the top favorite for the title, which they almost won in 2016. Luckily for them, defending champions Sevilla, who also denied them in 2016, are still in the Champions League and have lost the window to be demoted to the Europa League for an opportunity to defend their title.
The Reds are also feeling extra motivated for the rest of the season thanks to Jürgen Klopp announcing his imminent exit publicly. They will chase down every trophy they can for their manager, who has given them so much.
2. Bayer 04 Leverkusen
The Xabi Alonso-led Bayer 04 Leverkusen are a force to be reckoned with in European football this season.
They are the only unbeaten side in Europe’s top leagues. They have not lost in the Europa League either.
Like Liverpool, they have received a bye to the round of 16 for topping their group. Hence, they will find out their first knockout opponents on 23 February 2024 when the draws for the round of 16 will be held.
You can get Bayer 04 Leverkusen tickets on Seatsnet.com as a neutral because getting the tickets via the club’s website may prove tough.
The club has struggled for goals without their talismanic striker Victor Boniface, who is recovering from a groin injury. Their grit has been enough to see them through in recent weeks, but even Alonso understands that they need the Nigerian badly.
They will hope not to meet one of the other favorites in the knockouts to keep up their hopes of getting to the final and clinching the Europa League title.
3. Brighton and Hove Albion
Roberto De Zerbi is no stranger to European competitions, having coached Shakhtar Donetsk before accepting the Brighton and Hove Albion job in September 2022.
However, his squad is an inexperienced one, with less than five percent of its roster having played in any European competitions before. Yet, De Zerbi led them to the top a group that had AFC Ajax and Olympique de Marseille, two clubs that have proven themselves at the elite European competition level.
This is what makes them one of the favorites to win the 2023/24 Europa League.
Compared to Liverpool and Leverkusen, however, they have work to do in their league. Those struggles could see them miss out totally on a historic trophy. Still, they are more likely to reach the final of the competition than 40 percent of the teams left in the competition.
They will find out their knockout opponents at the draw on 23 February. You can get Brighton and Hove Albion tickets for their round of 16 clash on Seatsnet.com.
4. AS Roma
AS Roma will face Feyenoord Rotterdam on 15 February and 22 February.
You can get AS Roma tickets for their match against Feyenoord on their official websites. Tickets via the club’s website will be limited which is why Seatsnet.com is your best bet for attempting the game.
Roma will play in the knockout playoffs because they finished second in their group behind Slavia Prague. However, they are favorites to win because they made the finals of last year’s competition in a similar situation.
They finished second in their group last year, faced off against Red Bull Salzburg and won, and progressed to the final where they lost narrowly to Sevilla who are not in the competition this season.
A Roma Europa League win over the likes of Liverpool and Leverkusen is hard to see but like Brighton, they have a 40 percent chance of winning it.
Their chances will increase significantly if either or both of the top two favorites fail to make it to the final.
5. Dark Horses: AC Milan
AC Milan is one of the third-placed Champions League teams that dropped down into the Europa League. They will compete in the knockout playoffs of the Europa League against Stade Rennais who finishes second in their Europa League group.
You can get AC Milan tickets to the game from Seatsnet.com.
AC Milan are considered dark horses in the race to the Aviva Stadium, Dublin because they are outsiders. They have the quality to go all the way but they have to first navigate a knockout playoff game which will not be easy.
Rennes are a team that has proven themselves against tougher teams many times in the ongoing season across all competitions. If Milan scales past them in the knockout playoffs, it will give them a big boost to be able to compete for the tickets to the final on 22 May 2024.