Chelsea have moved into sole favouritism for the Europa League crown, though other English sides may struggle to even reach the Round 16
|By PAUL GOUGH
Chelsea are the new favourites to win the Europa League, with holders Atletico Madrid facing the possibility of an embarrassing early exit when the second-leg matches in the Round of 32 are played on Thursday [Friday morning AEDT].
Atletico Madrid, who sit second behind all-conquering Barcelona in La Liga and have also won this competition in two of the past three seasons, suffered a shock 2-0 first-leg defeat at home against Russia's Rubin Kazan.
The punters do not fancy Atletico's chances of turning things around, with Rubin the $2.74 favourites at home in the second leg with Betfair and the La Liga outfit priced at $2.90. The draw is paying $3.35.
Chelsea, winners of the Champions League last season, are now the clear $5.90 favourites to win.
That comes after their comfortable 1-0 win on the road at Sparta Prague, with the Blues the shortest-priced favourites of the night at $1.35 with Betfair to win the second leg. The Czech side is at $12.50 and the draw at $5.40.
|Chelsea to win v Sparta Prague at $1.35 at Betfair
||Liverpool to qualify for the Rd of 16 at $3.70 at Betfair|
The pick of the second-leg ties is once again Ligue 1 outfit Lyon at home to fourth-placed English Premier League side Tottenham, with Spurs leading 2-1 from the first leg in London thanks to two incredible free-kicks from their superstar Welshman Gareth Bale.
Spurs have only lost one of their past 13 matches in all competitions and they are capable of getting the draw they need to progress to the Round of 16 at odds of $3.50.
But the other two English clubs in action on Thursday are facing a difficult task to progress to the Round of 16.
Newcastle could only manage a 0-0 draw at home against Metalist Kharkiv in the first leg and are now the $4.50 outsiders to win the second leg in Ukraine, with the home side favourites at $1.92 and the draw paying $3.60.
A score draw away from home would be enough to see the Magpies qualify for the next round and they are good value at odds of $2.24 at Betfair to do that, considering they had scored in their previous four English Premier League matches prior to last week's first leg.
Liverpool are facing a tougher task given they are 2-0 down to Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, ahead of the second leg at Anfield.
But the question is whether they can win by enough to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit and qualify for the next round.
If they can bring the same kind of form they showed in Sunday's 5-0 home demolition of Swansea in the Premier League into the game, then they are still good value at odds of $3.70 at Betfair to qualify for the Round of 16.
* Note prices subject to change