Sizing up the favourites for the Europa League

There has been a tendency to disrespect the Europa League (uefa.com) in recent seasons. In England it is still seen as the Carling Cup with a passport. A look down the list of teams involved though reveals some of the continent's most prestigious clubs.

  1. Paris St Germain are the favourites with some bookmakers. They have enjoyed European success before, winning the Cup Winners Cup in 1996. They have a useful young team that looked impressive powering past Salzburg in the opening group game.
  2. Atletico Madrid (clubatleticodemadrid.com) were weakened by the sale of Sergio Aguero to Manchester City and Diego Forlan to Internazionale, but will take the Europa League seriously. They won this competition in 2010, beating Fulham in the final.
  3. Tottenham Hotspur (tottenhamhotspur.com), under Harry Redknapp, regard themselves as a Champions League side, but the fans will hope they don't disrespect the Europa League. They have arguably the strongest squad of any club in the competition, with stars like Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale
  4. Athletic Bilbao (athletic-club.net) have an illustrious reputation in Spanish football, and were UEFA Cup finalists in 1977. They will rely on goals from Spain international striker Fernando Llorente.
  5. Celtic, the first UK team to win the Champions Cup, find themselves back in the Europa League on a technicality, after being eliminated in the qualifiers. They will hope to be able to seize the second chance and make a decent showing. Under Martin O'Neill they reached the final of this competition's predecessor, the UEFA Cup.

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