All eyes now turn to the Europa League, with English and Italian clubs tipped to fare well in their Round of 32 matches on Thursday
|By PAUL GOUGH
It looks set to be a good night for English and Italian clubs when the knockout stages of Europe's secondary club competition - the Europa League - gets underway on Thursday [Friday morning Australian time].
Heading into the Round-of-32 first leg matches, reigning champions Atletico Madrid are the equal $7.60 favourites with Betfair to again win the trophy this season, along with the current holders of Europe's top trophy - the Champions League - in English Premier League giants Chelsea.
Then comes Italy's Inter Milan at $14.50, followed by big-spending Russian club Anzhi at $16 and then Tottenham and Napoli at $16.50. Liverpool are next at $18, Bayer Leverkusen at $24, Benfica at $25, Zenit St Petersburg $26, Newcastle at $29 and Lazio at $30.
The pick of the 16 matches across Europe is Spurs at home to Lyon.
With their superstar winger Gareth Bale in peerless form, Spurs are the warm favourites to win the first leg at $1.86 at Betfair and even shorter at $1.83 with sportsbet.com.au. Lyon are priced at $4.80 and $4.33 respectively, while the draw is at $3.80 and $3.50.
|Tottenham, Newcastle, Chelsea, Inter, Napoli and Atletico Madrid to win their Europa League matches
||Borussia Monchengladbach and Lazio to draw in their Europa League match at $3.45 at Betfair|
Chelsea should also win away to Czech side Sparta Prague, with the Blues priced at $1.74 with Betfair, while the home side is at $5.90 and the draw is paying $3.90.
While Chelsea's form has been inconsistent, the reigning European champions are coming off a morale-boosting 4-1 win over Wigan, while Sparta Prague have won just one of their past six.
And Newcastle can make it a good night for English clubs by winning their first-leg clash at home to Ukraine's Metalist Kharkiv, who are playing their first competitive match following their winter break.
Inconsistent Liverpool, fresh from a poor home loss in the league to West Brom on Monday, could struggle in freezing Russia against Zenit St Petersburg.
But it is Liverpool that are favourites to qualify overall across the two legs at $1.82, with Zenit at $2.02.
Inter and Napoli should also win their first leg matches at home at odds of $1.56 and $1.53 respectively with Betfair against Romania's CFR Cluj and Czech club Viktoria Plzen, who are paying $7.60 and $7.80.
Lazio, who sit third in Serie A, have a tougher task away to German club Borussia Monchengladbach.
Finally, defending champions Atletico Madrid - aiming for a third Europa League title in four seasons - should have little trouble at home, paying $1.46 with Betfair up against mid-table Russian club Rubin Kazan at odds of $9.
* Note prices subject to change