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A REVAMPED EUROPA LEAGUE TOURNAMENT COULD DELIVER DELIGHT THIS AUGUST

 

Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer

Most United fans are happy with how things have gone with the club since English football restarted in June. Unbeaten (at the time of writing) since January, United are playing scintillating football and backing it up with results. The charge is on for a Top 4 spot, an FA Cup victory and, of course, the Europa League. The latter is perhaps the most interesting for fans, given the revamped schedule and tournament formatting. Played over a few weeks in August in Germany, it will almost feel like a major international tournament.

As they have been all season, United are the clear favourites for the Europa League. It’s hard to disagree. But this is unchartered territory for United, and with the likes of Inter, Sevilla, Roma, Wolves and Bayer Leverkusen still in the tournament. The competition still has to finish the Last 16 ties, and then a one-legged knockout tournament will ensue from the 11th- 21st August in Cologne.

United hot-favourites to win a second Europa League in three years
888sport have given United a price of 6/4 to win the Europa League. The odds have been cut partly due to the kind draw the Red Devils received last week. It’s just a matter of going through the motions with the second leg against LASK, and then United have a winnable quarter-final date with either FC Copenhagen or Istanbul Basaksehir. The Turkish side hold a slender 1-0 advantage over the Danes. A semi-final might see an all-English with Wolves, but Roma and Sevilla also lurk in United’s side of the draw.

As for the other side, Inter (6/1) are often mentioned in football betting tips as the team most likely to meet United in the Final, which will take place in Cologne on 21st August. The Italians have yet to play the first leg of their Last 16 game with Getafe, so the two teams will square up in a one-off match to determine the finalists. Bayer Leverkusen (8/1) are the other widely-backed side to occupy the lower half of the draw. The Germans have a 3-1 lead from the 1st leg, and it would be very surprising to see the Scottish side go through.

United can grow with the experience of playing this tournament

Above all, however, there is the chance for United fans to have some fun watching their team play in a situation unlike anything they have experienced before. The comparisons with a World Cup or European Championships are not far off the mark. United and the rest of the teams will be based in Cologne for the competition, and there is the added excitement of seeing one-legged ties in an all or nothing format.

Mason Greenwood

Moreover, this is a test of mettle for United’s young guns and older heads. We have all sat back and watched with glee as the likes of Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes have promised a new era at Old Trafford. But how will they fare in a cagey semi-final in a strange stadium in a foreign country? One thing that has United fans and pundits in their assessment of this team is that there is potential for more from this team. A two-week tournament with the prize of the Europa League at the end of it will stand them in good stead going forward, and it will perhaps act as a platform for even greater success in the future.

 
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