Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 5 March 2015

Banish any thoughts of an all-English Europa League final

Andre Villas Boas' Tottenham Hotspur should overcome Basle
Andre Villas Boas' Tottenham Hotspur should overcome Basle

Betting on football has proven detrimental to the financial wealth of punters seeking a profit this season.

Some results have simply left them gasping – Man United losing a 2-0 lead at home to Chelsea, Rangers failing to justify odds of 1/10 in accumulators, Spurs losing to Fulham and Liverpool proving impossible to predict – brilliant one moment and poor the next.

That makes it surprising that three English clubs are in the last eight of the Europa League with Chelsea (5/2) and Spurs (3/1) heading the market for outright victory.

The two London clubs have avoided each other and the layers are quick to offer 5/1 an all-London final. With Newcastle included, it's 5/2 an all-English decider, but that's best given a 'bye-ball'.

Chelsea have no easy task against Russia's Rubin Kazan who have accounted for holders Atletico Madrid and Levante and 14/1 on the Russians to go all the way, is on the generous side. Spurs appear to have too much class for Basel but Newcastle have got the worst of the draw, taking on Benfica and hence the Geordies are also 14/1 to lift their first trophy since the Intertoto Cup back in 2006. Unbeaten Lazio (6/1) will be warm favourites against Turks Fernerbahce but it's the Portuguese champions who must be supported at 4/1 for celebrations in Amsterdam come May. Benfica have not lost in 32 competitive matches and have a very talented outfit.

The Eagles should be more than a match for the Magpies, having won all four games since joining from the Champions League, including knocking out Bayer Leverkusen and Bordeaux with impressive ease.

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