Europa League: Outright preview with winner, top goalscorer and free betting tips

Our outright preview for best bets in the 2020/21 Europa League

After picking out the winner of the Europa League last season, Tom Carnduff is aiming to do it again and has two best bets.

Recommended bets

2pts e.w. Tottenham to win the Europa League at 8/1 (1/2 1,2)

1pt e.w. Hoffenheim to win the Europa League at 40/1 (1/2 1,2)

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record

Much like the Champions League, the group stages of the Europa League return just months after the final in Germany. With Sevilla's involvement in Europe's top competition, there is a great chance we will see another team lift the trophy this season.

Sevilla, a 14/1 winning tip in Sporting Life's preview last season, have made this competition their own but they have a favourable Champions League group which should mean progression from that instead of the third place finish which directs you into this tournament.

It genuinely feels a very open Europa League this season. The competitive nature of top leagues around Europe means that some great teams have to settle for the continent's second competition and many will view it as a great opportunity to pick up serious silverware.

The two North London clubs take favouritism, with the bookmakers expecting Arsenal and Tottenham to battle it out for the trophy. Both have a great chance of winning the whole thing, but it's debating which team represents better value with the Gunners more fancied at 7/1 compared to Spurs' 8/1.

Arsenal have been hugely impressive under Mikel Arteta and the expectation will perhaps be on them more than their biggest rivals. For Tottenham, we can't look past them having serial winner Jose Mourinho at the helm and the impressive transfer window they had as they look to improve upon last season's disappointment.

Jose Mourinho: Portuguese boss watches Tottenham in action

When it comes to picking a winner out of the two, Tottenham are the better choice. That's not just because they have better odds, although that plays a small part, but the fact that all the ingredients seem in place for success in one of the four competitions they are involved in.

They are a strong shout for the top-four this season and we're starting to see what this Spurs side are capable of under Mourinho's guidance. The voices saying that the Portuguese coach is past it were getting louder, but hitting five at Southampton and then a 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford have seen them quieten down.

Spurs also scored seven in their final qualification game against Maccabi Haifa. It could be said that was a result that should be expected given the difference in quality but it suggests a new Tottenham are here this season; one that will put teams to the sword when the opportunity presents itself.

And yet, maybe the biggest indicator of where this Spurs team is came in their first qualifying game; that was a 2-1 win away at Lokomotiv Plovdiv. They were in a tough situation and went 1-0 down in the 71st-minute. Goals from Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele secured a 2-1 victory in normal time.

Again, the difference in quality between the two teams was significant but they dug in and found a way to win; we simply couldn't say that about Spurs last season.

Tottenham's Serge Aurier fires in against Manchester United

Their slow start is firmly behind them and they're now firing on all fronts. Kane and Son Heung-min are forming a fine partnership while Gareth Bale will come into the mix after the international break. That will create a forward trio that will be one of the best in Europe.

Tottenham's transfer window was a positive one with Bale the headline arrival. However, beyond that, they managed to find a way to strengthen in all areas.

Sergio Reguilon arrived from Real Madrid to address the left-back situation while Matt Doherty is in from Wolves to line-up on the other flank. Spurs now have genuine quality, attacking full-backs which is crucial for the way they want to play, particularly down that right side.

After watching the All or Nothing documentary, and Mourinho insisting they no longer become a group of nice guys, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's presence in midfield now helps them to create that on the field. He's a midfielder who likes to be all over the pitch and really battles; it's easy to see why Mourinho wanted to bring him in.

We haven't even addressed Spurs' group yet. They'll always be expected to progress in first but the three teams they'll come up against are Ludogorets, LASK and Antwerp; they couldn't have asked for better opponents alongside them in Group J.

Tottenham players celebrate beating Chelsea on penalties

Progressing in first will be a huge help to their chances of reaching the latter stages as it could put them up against some of the teams who finished second in the weaker groups; one from Group B, E or I would be ideal. However, based on the players in this Spurs side, they shouldn't really fear anyone else in the competition.

Mourinho has a track record of success throughout his career and a tournament like the Europa League, which he won at Manchester United and Porto, even if it was called the UEFA Cup then, will be a great way to silence those critics.

That win over United strongly suggested that Tottenham may have finally hit the right note under Mourinho, who actually did well despite their low finish last season. He took over a Spurs side in 14th and guided them to sixth; the table from Mourinho's first game in charge until the end of the season would have them fourth.

We're perhaps more harsh on Mourinho because of his reputation as a winner but Tottenham's part-season with him in charge was actually a success when we look at the statistics; even more so when we factor in the injuries they had to deal with.

It's 15/8 with Sky Bet that Tottenham win one of the four trophies available to them this season. At 8/1, they seem a good bet to go the distance in the Europa League.

Andrej Kramaric celebrates his goal against Eintracht Frankfurt

Of course, there will be other teams who have a serious chance of securing the title and a team who have been underestimated in the odds is Hoffenheim; the German outfit qualified after finishing sixth in the Bundesliga last season.

We weren't entirely sure what to expect of them this season after Alfred Schreuder left the club in June but the arrival of Sebastian Hoeneß can be viewed as a smart appointment. This is his first senior managerial job but the success he had at Bayern Munich, guiding their II team to the 3. Liga title for the first time ever, makes this Hoffenheim project a very interesting one to follow.

The early signs are very good. They've won two of their opening three Bundesliga games and the highlight was that 4-1 hammering of Bayern in front of 6,000 supporters at the PreZero Arena.

Alongside that result against the current champions, a real positive has been the early form of Andrej Kramaric. The former Leicester man has six goals across his first three games and was the subject of reported interest from Bayern at the back-end of the transfer window.

He stayed though and looks as if he can be the man to fire Hoffenheim far in this competition. His total across all competitions last season was 12 in 20, a knee injury impacting his campaign, but this season has seen eight in four if we include the brace against Chemnitzer in the cup.

Munas Dabbur in action against Bayern Munich

It remains to be seen how much of the goalscoring is expected to be done by Kramaric but this is a team set up for attack and there are quality players around him who can contribute. Munas Dabbur and Robert Skov are two who will also be looked at but there are creative players behind who can make things happen.

The loan capture of Ryan Sessegnon firms up the left side and we can expect to see him relied on more for attack than the defensive side of the game, he could actually hit a decent goal tally in the Bundesliga if he gets regular minutes.

Sessegnon was, of course, not their only bit of 'summer' business and the arrival of Mijat Gacinovic from Frankfurt will hopefully give them some impact from the bench. Sebastian Rudy is back at the club, a lucky one escaping Schalke once again; that is another smart bit of business in the middle of the pitch.

Group L puts them up against Gent, Red Star Belgrade and Slovan Liberec. They've managed to avoid some big hitters considering they were in pot three; Hoffenheim are odds-on favourites to win the group and, as with Spurs, that will be massive for their chances of progression to the latter stages.

Recent history may have shown us that only the 'big' clubs can win this tournament but we've seen plenty of shocks along the way. We don't truly know what we can expect from Hoffenheim at this point in the season, but if the early season showings are anything to go by, they may well be onto a winner.

Odds correct at 1530 BST (08/10/20)

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