The UEFA Europa League is well underway and the battle to reach the last 32 is gripping teams across all the Groups. So far, the favorites to take the title at the Gazprom Arena have remained the same at the bookmakers, with England’s West Ham and Italy’s Napoli currently at 11.5 and 10.5 respectively with the sportsbooks. Yet ‘dark horse’ team Lyon have been playing well and racking up some big wins in the competition so far, now placing them third favorite to win the title at 16 ahead of Bayern Leverkusen at 17 and England’s second team in contention, Leicester, at 18.5.
These Europa League odds at time of writing place Scandinavia’s remaining team in the tournament, Denmark’s Brondby, way down the betting odds at 50. But can they make an unexpected comeback? Going by the UEFA Europa League tips, the victors of Group A will undoubtedly be Lyon with Scotland’s Rangers at odds of 100 and Sparta Praha at 80. Lyon have won their first four games in the group with ease whilst Brondby have suffered two losses and two draws, one goalless against Sparta Praha and a 1-1 against Rangers on Matchday 4. But is their luck changing?
Will domestic triumphs build momentum?
Away from the glare of the Europa League, Brondby have enjoyed a recent domestic winning streak of four wins against Vejle BK, Viborg, Copenhagen and Aalborg Freja. And victories like that can build momentum within a team that has so far performed below expectations on the European stage. After that vital win against Viborg the Brondby manager Niels Frederiksen said: “We are getting better and better…our relationship with the ball is getting better and better…I’m definitely more confident now.”
That confidence is going to be crucial if Brondby are to remain in contention for Europa League qualification. Their re-match with Rangers on the 25th November must net them a win to stay in the competition, but Rangers too will be playing all out for victory after their group tie losses to Lyon and Sparta Prague. But Brondby’s recent improvement in performance may yet yield results, with that upturn in domestic form and now the return from injury of Mikael Uhre, the Superliga’s champions’ leading scorer. Frederiksen has said “It is important for us to get Uhre ready because he is our top scorer and has speed that can threaten the Scots”. The 6’ 2” striker has scored eight times so far in Brondby’s 2021/22 domestic campaign.
If the bookies are to be believed, we may very well see Denmark’s Brondby team crash out of the Europa League despite their upturn in performance at domestic level and the welcome return of Uhre to the fold in time for that all important match versus Rangers. In their absence all eyes may well be on Lyon as a team that started this campaign with the odds against them, but who have proved their worth against Europe’s finest and may yet go on to claim victory in this season’s Europa League.