While PSG-Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool-Atlético Madrid were undeniably the biggest games of the week in Europe, they aren’t the only match-ups worth checking out.
A few Europa League battles are surprisingly intriguing considering we’re only in the round of 16 of Europe’s second-tier competition.
Getafe-Inter Milan is the headliner here, because no matter who Getafe is facing, it’s must-see TV, right?🤤
OK, even I can admit that’s not exactly the case. This one is interesting because A) Inter Milan is second-favorite to win this competition at +400 (behind Manchester United at +325). And B) Getafe just knocked off an Ajax team that probably should have won its Champions League group – no, I’m not letting that go anytime soon.
But it’s not just Getafe-Inter. Sevilla-Roma pits third place in La Liga against fifth place in Italy. And from the EPL, Manchester United-LASK and Wolves-Olympiakos will tell us whether the fifth- (United) and sixth-best (Wolves) Premier League teams should be among the top three favorites in futures – Wolves are third-favorite at +600.
THE HEADLINER: GETAFE-INTER, AKA CAN GETAFE A LITTLE RESPECT?
I’ve understandably gotten some grief on the High Press Pod for being a little too “Team Getafe,” but seriously, did anyone see what these guys did to Ajax? Does convincingly beating Ajax already mean nothing?
These guys did everything but finish top-four in Spain a year ago. This year, they’re well-positioned to qualify for next year’s Champions League regardless of what happens in the UEL – at the moment, they’re tied on points (46) with fourth-place Real Sociedad after 27 matchdays.
There’s a four-team battle for third through sixth place in La Liga – the gap between third-place Sevilla (47) and sixth-place Atleti (45) is only two points – and Getafe is right in the middle of it.
Despite that, and despite how they fared against Ajax, bookmakers still have them as one of three teams at +1,600 to win the Europa League. ManU, Inter, Wolves, Bayer Leverkusen and Sevilla all have shorter odds. While I don’t think Getafe should be the favorites, I don’t think they’re a worse bet than all five of those teams, and +1,600 would obviously equal a tremendous payout.
Onto the actual match-up … But first of all, we’d be remiss not to mention the fact it’s unclear when this one will take place – and the same can be said of Sevilla-Roma — due to the coronavirus, which has hit Italy as hard as any country in Europe. Because of that, there is no line currently posted for either of those games.
Whenever Getafe meets Inter, they’ll be squaring off with a team that probably/definitely should have reached the Champions League round of 16 and is in third place in Serie A. Inter has enjoyed a good season under Antonio Conte, with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez both impressing, but is coming off back-to-back losses to Lazio and Juventus.
IS SEVILLA POISED FOR ANOTHER BIG EUROPA LEAGUE RUN?
The reasons to like Sevilla here include their strong recent play. They haven’t lost in La Liga since February 9, and they beat Getafe 3-0 on February 23 before drawing Atleti last weekend. As of around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, absolutely.
We also can’t mention Sevilla and the Europa League without pointing out this team won this tournament in ’13-14, ’14-15 and ’15-16 (I admit the current roster didn’t have a ton to do with those trophies, but still…)
Roma, for its part, is just three points out of fourth place in Italy, behind what we’re pretty sure is a Champions League sleeper in Atalanta.
ARE MAN UNITED AND WOLVES GETTING TOO MUCH LOVE?
The opponent for Manchester United, LASK, currently leads the Austrian Bundesliga, where it is six points ahead of the HPS darlings of the Champions League group stage, Red Bull Salzburg. Yet OGS and Co. are -400 to advance to the quarters, compared to +300 for LASK. Maybe I’m biased toward the Austrian Bundesliga because of what I saw in the fall from two players no longer in the league (ex-RBS stars Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino), but that seems a little unreasonable.
And while Wolves are an entertaining team to watch, should they really be so heavily favored (-286) to bounce an Olympiakos (+225) side that just knocked off an in-form (they’ve won their last 3 in the EPL) Arsenal??