The Europa League Round of 16 kicks off on March 9th, 2023. In anticipation of Matchday 1, find best bets for Manchester United vs. Real Betis, Juventus vs. Freiburg, Roma vs. Real Sociedad, and Sporting CP vs. Arsenal.
Europa League Best Bets (3/9/23)
The Europa League Round of 16 has big shoes to fill, after a thrilling play-off round. Some big names were upset in the last round of matches, and you can expect madness to come in the next 8 ties. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for the first legs.
Manchester United vs. Real Betis
Having taken down Barcelona, perhaps the hottest team in the competition, Manchester United now find themselves with a target on their back as the new favorites in the eyes of many. They’re coming off of a shellacking of historic proportions against Liverpool, but other than that debacle, they’ve been in excellent form since the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Real Betis find themselves in a tough spot. They enjoyed the bye that came along with winning their Europa League group, as they’re wrapped up in a tough top-four battle in La Liga. They’ve played well in recent weeks, but balancing Europe and the end of their domestic season will be a real challenge.
Finding value in this one is tough; United should win, and the odds heavily reflect that, rendering them unplayable. Similarly, Marcus Rashford’s outrageous form has begun to fade, but the odds have not moved accordingly; he’s still a minus-odds favorite to score, destroying the value of one of the best props in recent weeks.
For me, the best bet is the total/result parlay of United to win, and over 2.5 total goals, at basically even-money odds. It’s far from the best value in this article, but with the way United have played on both ends of the pitch, with a solid-enough attacking side like Betis on the other end it should work out nicely.
Best Bet: United win + o2.5 goals (+105)
Juventus vs. Freiburg
Juventus, with their 15-point deduction for financial malfeasance, are in a unique spot; they’ve been one of the better teams in Italy, but their best chance to qualify for next year’s UCL might be through winning this competition. They had some solid recent form until a classic 1-0 loss against Mourinho’s Roma over the weekend, and will look to get back on track in Turin this Thursday.
Unlike Juve, Freiburg started the season hot, topping the league early on, sitting as high as second place on matchday 15, and they were in the UCL spots just a couple of weeks ago. They’re a tough draw, and like Juve, will be highly motivated in this competition as their domestic standing has not completely eroded, but is unquestionably trending in that direction.
Juve are favored at home, although not by too much- it’s safe to say that expectations have been dampened by the first-leg home draw against Nantes. They haven’t been automatic on their own pitch this season, so I’m really not sure a straight moneyline bet is where the value lies in this one.
Once again, the moneyline/scoring line parlay could be a really strong play. Juventus to win paired with under 2.5 goals looks great with +220 odds. Both of these teams are stronger defensively than they are in attack, and Freiburg have particularly struggled to score on the road against top competition.
Similarly, if you want to bet on the Juve defense without relying on their attack to do much, you can bet on Freiburg’s team total of under 0.5 goals for +105 odds, essentially even money to bet on Juve to keep a clean sheet, which they’ve done fairly often in a relatively high-scoring Serie A.
Best Bets: Juventus win + u2.5 goals (+220), Freiburg Team Total u0.5 goals (+105)
Roma vs. Real Sociedad
Roma and Real Sociedad find themselves in basically the exact same place domestically; clinging onto fourth place in a tight race. Like many of the other teams we’ve discussed, both of these sides will have to decide which route to the UCL is going to be their focus- Europa League glory, or domestic achievement. Roma in particular have some huge domestic matches on the horizon, so it’ll be interesting to see how much manpower they devote to this clash.
Finally, it’s time to take a regular moneyline pick; Roma +125 is really solid value for a team that’s had some good results recently, and have been tough in Europe under Jose Mourinho. They haven’t lost or drawn at home in the Serie A or Europa League in 2023, with their lone blemish being that bizarre Cup loss against Cremonese.
In a similar vein, let’s take a look at a wager that’s not just for matchday 1, but for which the odds will shift after this match. Roma are narrowly favored to advance, but if they do win, that gap will become less narrow. So if you want to place on it, now is the time to do that.
Best Bets: Roma ML +125, Roma to Advance -125
Sporting CP vs. Arsenal
Arsenal’s prioritization level for this tournament is tough to assess. As a team with zero titles earned in the UCL and UEL combined, they would absolutely love to walk away with the trophy, but they’re also in good position to secure their first Premier League title in nearly two decades.
Being up for multiple trophies is surely a good problem to have, but as we learned from Liverpool a year ago, failing to pick your battles and rotate the squad can cause you to miss out on the biggest ones, a fate Arsenal would like to avoid.
Sporting CP are in a dead heat in the race for next year’s UCL, and probably don’t have much of a shot against an excellent Arsenal side, but I’d expect them to give it 100% in the first leg, on their home pitch. It’s been an extreme mixed bag for Sporting between the UCL and UEL, in terms of each one of attack, defense, and overall results.
The best bet in this one is over 2.5 goals at even money; Arsenal could come close to cracking this one on their own if Sporting have an off-day. For the moneyline, let’s keep this one simple- the better team are in plus-odds, so we’re going to take it. It’s not a lock- Sporting are no pushovers, especially in Lisbon- but it’s definitely good value.
Best Bets: o2.5 Goals (+100), Arsenal ML +125