Manchester United could not have asked for a much more favourable last-16 tie in the Europa League, and because of this bookmakers have installed them as favourites to win the competition and secure Champions League football for next season.
Pressure is mounting on under-fire boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with his side still scrapping to make it into the top four in the Premier League, but Thursday’s 5-0 rout of Club Brugge saw the Red Devils progress to the last-16 of Europe’s secondary club competition and if they can go all the way they will not need a top-four finish to earn a place among the continent’s elite next season.
But can they go all the way? With a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs next month they could have been paired with some big clubs still left in the competition, but Solskjaer’s men managed to avoid all of them as they were drawn alongside Austrian outfit LASK Linz, and as a result bet365 make the Premier League side the 4/1 favourites to win the Europa League this season.
They face stiff competition, however, with Inter Milan next up at 5/1 after being paired with 16/1 Spanish side Getafe, while United’s domestic rivals Wolves are 13/2 for European glory after they were handed a last-16 meeting with Arsenal’s conquerors, Olympiakos.
Five-time winners Sevilla, the most successful club in the history of this competition, are 7/1 contenders after being handed a two-legged assignment against Italian giants Roma, who are 14/1 shots, while the only other club shorter than 10s at this time are Bayer Leverkusen.
The German outfit will take on Scottish giants Rangers for a place in the quarter-finals after Steven Gerrard’s men ousted Braga this week to become the first side to ever make it from the first round of qualifying all the way through to the last-16. The Gers could not have asked for a much tougher assignment though and, as a result, they are out at 50/1 for a sensational Europa League success.
Full Draw (ties to be played March 12/19)
Istanbul Basaksehir v FC Copenhagen
Olympiakos v Wolves
Rangers v Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg v Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan v Getafe
Sevilla v Roma
Eintracht Frankfurt or RB Salzburg v Basel
LASK v Manchester United