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Europa League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Projections & Best Bets, Including Napoli & Spartak Moscow (Dec. 9)

Europa League Odds, Picks, Predictions: Projections & Best Bets, Including Napoli & Spartak Moscow (Dec. 9) article feature image
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Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images. Pictured: Napoli standout Merit Demiral.

It’s the final round of the Europa League group-stage matches this week. While some clubs already know their fate, others are still trying to earn a spot in the Round of 16 or in the Europa Conference League knockout stage by finishing in third in the group.

Before we jump into the projections, let’s first take a look at the tiebreaker rules, which have changed for this competition:

Per UEFA.com:

  1. Points in head-to-head matches among the tied teams;
  2. Goal difference in head-to-head matches among the tied teams;
  3. Goals scored in head-to-head matches among the tied teams;
  4. Away goals scored in head-to-head matches among the tied teams;
  5. If more than two teams were tied, and after applying all head-to-head criteria above, a subset of teams are still tied, all head-to-head criteria above were reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams;
  6. Goal difference in all group matches;
  7. Goals scored in all group matches;
  8. Away goals scored in all group matches;
  9. Wins in all group matches;
  10. Away wins in all group matches;
  11. Disciplinary points (direct red card = 3 points; double yellow card = 3 points; single yellow card = 1 point); and,
  12. UEFA club coefficient

Let’s also take a look at how each group sits before the final matches:

*Graphics courtesy of UEFA.com

Finishing in first place in the group automatically sends the winner to the Round of 16. However, if you finish second you are put into a two-leg playoff with one of the third place group finishers from the Champions League. So, winning your respective group is absolutely vital.

If you’d like to read more about how I determine my projected lines and totals using an expected goals model, you can read about it here.

For the Europa League, my projections factor in UEFA Coefficients for every country represented in the competition. The projections also factor in the talent of each squad based on their total transfer value on Transfer Market.

That way, the projections can account for the strength of the domestic league each club plays in and the talent level of each club.

Europa League Projections

Best Bets

Sturm Graz vs. Monaco

Sturm Graz Odds +330
Monaco Odds -125
Draw +285
Over/Under 2.5 (-160 / +130)
Day | Time Thursday | 12:45 p.m. ET
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This match is completely meaningless to both teams. Monaco has already secured the group, as they have a three-point lead over PSV Eindhoven with the tiebreaker, and Sturm Graz is guaranteed to finish last in the group.

Monaco has been an incredible defensive outfit this season. In France’s Ligue 1, they’re only allowing 0.82 NPxG per match, which is the league’s best mark. Even during Europa League play they’ve held their opponents to only four expected goals in five matches. They also have a huge match Sunday against Paris Saint-Germain, so I doubt they’ll risk a lot of their first-team players.

The last time Monaco faced Austrian side Sturm Graz they completely dominated them. Even though the final score was 1-0, Monaco held 72% possession and only conceded three shots. Also, Sturm Graz had only eight touches in Monaco’s penalty area.

(graphic via infogol.net)

Sturm Graz is in terrible form in the Austrian Bundesliga, with only five points in their last six matches. They haven’t provided really anything offensively during their Europa League campaign, creating only 2.7 xG in five games, which is the lowest of anyone in the Europa League.

I only have 2.60 goals projected for this match, so I’ll back the total staying under three goals on the alternative line at -125 odds in a meaningless match.

Pick: Total Under 3 Goals (-120)


Legia Warsaw vs. Spartak Moscow

Legia Warsaw Odds +175
Spartak Moscow Odds +155
Draw +240
Over/Under 2.5 (-115 / -105)
Day | Time Thursday | 12:45 p.m. ET
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Things are pretty simple in Group C when it comes down to it. Win and you’re into the knockout stage. Lose and you’re most likely out of it.

Spartak Moscow might have seven points, but they really struggled against Napoli and Leicester, putting up a -4.8 xGDiff in four matches. However, they were by far the better side in their 1-0 loss to Legia Warsaw in Moscow back in September. Spartak outshot Legia, 23-7, had 38 shot-creating actions and 34 touches in Legia’s penalty area, but just couldn’t put away their chances.

Spartak is a fantastic defensive outfit in the Russian Premier League, allowing only 1.01 NPxG per match and has the fifth-best xG differential.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team more overrated in the Europa League than Legia Warsaw.  Domestically in Poland, they’ve lost eight of their last nine matches and have only 12 points in 15 games, which is quite awful when you consider that Poland is the 26th-most difficult league by UEFA Coefficients.

Also, Legia Warsaw is only averaging 1.82 xG per match, while yielding 1.54 xG per contest on the domestic front. However, somehow they won their first two games against Spartak Moscow and Leicester City, giving them a chance to qualify for the knockout stage, with a -6.5 xGDiff entering the final group stage fixture. They’ve allowed 11.5 xG in five games, which is the highest mark of anyone in the competition.

I have Spartak Moscow projected at -132, so I love their Draw No Bet line at -125 odds via DraftKings and will make it my top pick.

Pick: Spartak Moscow — Draw No Bet (-125)

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Napoli vs. Leicester City

Napoli Odds +110
Leicester City Odds +235
Draw +280
Over/Under 2.5 (-145 / +115)
Day | Time Thursday | 12:45 p.m. ET
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Napoli has been by far the best team in this group, even though they’re currently sitting in third place. The Italian side has a +7.6 xGDiff through five matches, creating a whopping 13.2 xG in Europa League play.

(Graphic via fbref.com)

That’s not all that surprising considering how good their domestic form in Italy has been this season. Napoli is averaging 1.58 xG per match, while only allowing 0.76 xG per game, per fbref.com. They were also the better side in the 2-2 draw versus Leicester City the King Power Stadium back in September.

Napoli won the xG battle by a 1.9-0.7 margin, held a huge 22-7 edge in shots, had 35 shot-creating actions to Leicester’s 13 overall and 17 box entries compared to only seven for the Foxes.

Leicester’s defense is really struggling in the Premier League at the moment, as they’ve conceded 9.8 xG in their last five matches in the English top flight and only one of their opponents in those five matches is currently in the top half of the table.

Additionally, it was announced Leicester is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and will be without eight players for this match.

#LCFC will be without seven players for Thursday's #UEL game against Napoli due to a combination of Covid-19 cases and illness in the squad.

— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 8, 2021

Given Leicester is coming into this contest short-handed with a defense leaking goals that’s facing a prolific Napoli offense, I like the Italian side to grab all three points at +110 odds.

Pick: Napoli ML (+110)

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