UEFA Cup Group Stage Betting Preview
Sevilla, the defending UEFA Cup champions, were given a favourable draw they find themselves placed in Group C of the group stages of the tournament. They are the odds-on favourites at 1.90 (available at Gamebookers bookmaker).
Joining the Spaniards in Group C are Netherlands side AZ Alkmaar, Czechs Slovan Liberec, Switzerland's Grasshoppers and Braga of Portugal.
"We simply must win. AZ Alkmaar were in theory one of the teams we did not really want in our group, but we cannot complain," Sevilla manager Juande Ramos said.
The five-club group was one of eight drawn last week in Lyon.
The top three teams from each group will progress to the final 32, where they will be joined by eight Champions League clubs.
Perhaps the most difficult group is Group B, which includes former champions Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur and Club Brugge of Belgium, Turkey's Besiktas and Romanian champions Dinamo Bucharest.
"Obviously this is one of the trickiest groups. But we must play and fight until the end. Football is full of surprises, even if all four opponents are so strong and have extensive experience at the European level," Mircea Rednic said, manager of heavy underdogs Dinamo who are 8/1 wagering odds to win the group (at Betfred bookmaker).
Group E is also unpredictable. It includes Dutch side Feyenoord, the two-time UEFA Cup winners, along with England's Blackburn Rovers, Nancy-Lorraine of France and finally Switzerland's Basel and Polish side Wisla Krakow.
"Overall it is not a bad draw, it could've been worse," admitted an optimistic Nancy defender Frederic Biancalani. "Before the last round (when Nancy defeated Schalke) no one believed in us. We will enter the group stage with that spirit and a desire to go further in this competition." Nancy can be backed as high as 4/1 bet odds with VCBet bookmaker to top the group.
Another notable group includes Newcastle placed in Group H with Celta Vigo, Palermo, Frankfurt and Fenerbahce. Palermo are slight favourites, priced at 3.20 by Stan James bookmaker to finish first in their group.
Palermo manager Francesco Guidolin knows he's got his work cut out in such a tough draw: "We've not been lucky with draws this season. We had to face a strong team like West Ham Utd in the first round and now we are in a very tricky group. There are no weak clubs. We must play our best soccer if we want to go through to the next round."
In Group G, Czech club Mlada Boleslav faced a difficult test against French heavyweights Paris Saint Germain after defeating Olympique Marseille and making the group stages.
"We have French opposition once again and after beating Marseille, I'm sure we can defeat PSG," Mlada Boleslav manager Dusan Uhrin said rather confidently for an underdog team (7.50 at Paddy Power bookmaker) grouped against Panathinaikos, Rapid Bucharest and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
"They are not playing well in the French league but are probably the best team in our group," he added. "So I like our chances. Group H could have been a lot more difficult"
Finally, another noteworthy one is Group F, where Espanyol face Ajax, Austria Wien, Sparta Prague and Belgium's Zulte Waregem. "Ajax are the obvious favorites and Espanyol are also a very good club," Sparta Prague manager Michel Bilek asserted. "We can play well-balanced matches with the two other teams and advance. It is a very exciting group for the fans." Sparta are clear outsiders at 6.50 with Eurobet bookmaker.
Although the elite clubs of European football have not yet entered the UEFA Cup, the group stage certainly promises some enthralling matches. It could also produce a few surprises and plenty of profitable betting opportunites.
Here are all the lines provided by Bet365 sportsbook on each team to win their UEFA Cup group:
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group A Winner Odds
Partizan Belgrade 8.00
Maccabi Haifa 11.00
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group B Winner Odds
Bayer Leverkusen 3.00
Club Brugge 7.50
Dinamo Bucuresti 8.50
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group C Winner Odds
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group D Winner Odds
Odense BK 13.00
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group E Winner Odds
Wisla Krakow 9.00
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group F Winner Odds
Sparta Prague 5.50
Austria Vienna 11.00
SV Zulte Waregem 17.00
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group G Winner Odds
Rapid Bucuresti 6.50
Mlada Boleslav 7.00
Hapoel Tel-Aviv 10.00
UEFA Cup 2006/07 - Group H Winner Odds
Celta Vigo 4.00
Eintracht Frankfurt 9.00