The Europa League semi-finals commence this week, as we preview the final four teams in this season’s competition.

Chelsea, Arsenal, Valencia and Frankfurt are the sides who aspire to write their names in history as the 2019 Europa League winners, and by doing so will confirm their Champions League status for next season.

I will be providing some special bets, and a quick run-down of the team’s situation as they enter these crucial two legged matchups.

Who are the favourites? Will it be in all-English final? Will Unai Emery win his 4th Europa League in six seasons? All the insight and odds to come!

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Semi-Final One: Arsenal vs Valencia – First Leg at the Emirates.

Arsenal

Arsenal have never won a truly prestigious European trophy in their history, which is staggering considering that only Liverpool and Manchester United topple them in domestic honours. However, winning this competition would prove to be significant milestone for them, in not only ending their wait for a European trophy, but by also securing a Champions League spot for next season.

Unai Emery had a tough task to follow Arsene Wenger, to take them back in the right direction, which is ultimately Champions League football. If we rewind 12 months, Arsenal were beaten at this stage last season, to Spanish opponents Atletico Madrid, and advancing through to the final would ensure progress from last season. Arsenal previously knocked out Napoli in the previous round with two of their most accomplished performances of the season, as they comfortably beat them 3-0 on aggregate over two legs – a win in London and Naples.

The key player for Arsenal would be striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang who has scored 24 goals for the club, and on his day, Mesut Ozil can have a big influence on this side. Will they be able to combine coherently to deliver the trophy for the gunners?

Best Europa League Performance: Runners-up in 2000

Odds to win it: 9/4 (2nd favourites)
Odds to beat Chelsea in the final: 5/1
Odds for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to be the top goal scorer: 75/1

Valencia

Valencia are the 3rd favourites to win the Europa League after the English clubs, as they look to win their second title in this competition 15 years after their first. They have been through a mixture of emotions this season, as for large parts they were somewhat disappointing with many low scoring matches.

Despite having a rigid defence, their Achilles heel has been their inability to get goals. A lot of the pressure was placed on Michy Batshuayi’s shoulders at the beginning of the season, but it failed to materialise for him, so he left to go to Crystal Palace in the Premier League instead.

There is no talisman for Valencia, with only one of their players into double figures this season, and that is their penalty taker Daniel Parejo, and their 2nd top goal scorer is Goncalo Guedes with just a small figure of 8 goals. Valencia do boast a decent record against English clubs, particularly in recent memory as they took 4 points of Manchester United in this season’s Champions League, and have knocked out Arsenal on every occasion they have met in the past.

Can Valencia use the 2nd leg home advantage to halt former manager Unai Emery’s path to the final?

Best Europa League Performance: Winners in 2004

Odds to win it: 7/2 (3rd Favourites)
Odds to be runners-up: 11/4
Odds to keep a clean sheet in first leg against Arsenal: 10/3

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Semi-Final Two: Eintracht Frankfurt vs Chelsea – First Leg at Commerzbank-Arena

Eintracht Frankfurt

Under Niko Kovac’s reign last season, Frankfurt was able to win the German Cup by beating Bayern Munich, which qualified them for this season’s competition. They have gone from strength to strength this year, as they currently occupy the 4th spot in the Bundesliga, so could even be playing Champions League next season if they maintain their current form.

They are the underdogs left of the teams involved, but given their journey so far, they should not be taken for granted as an easy win for Chelsea. In previous rounds, Frankfurt had to overcome one of the tournament favourites Inter Milan in the round of 16, before beating an in-form Benfica in the quarter finals.

Against the Portuguese, they had to play the majority of the first leg with 10 men, but they managed to walk away with a retrievable 4-2 defeat. They won the 2nd leg 2-0, and progressed on away goals to be in this stage now.

The key man for Frankfurt is goal scorer Luka Jovic, who is a Serbian youngster who is maturing way beyond his years, and will look to get more momentous goals for his club.

Best Europa League Performance: Winners in 1980

Odds to win it: 11/2 (4th Favourites)
Odds to be runners-up: 4/1
Odds for Luka Jovic to be the top goal scorer: 7/1

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Chelsea

Chelsea are the favourites to win the competition, and if you look at the talent of the squads left involved, it’s hard to dispute that. Not only that, but they have had the easiest ride in the competition so far, comfortably passing through the likes of Dynamo Kiev and Slavia Prague in recent rounds.

Eden Hazard is the danger man for Chelsea, and as transfer speculation regarding his future accumulates, we may see him participate in 4 or 5 more Chelsea matches. With him linked to Real Madrid, his move looks inevitable, so it would be a great send-off for him if he was to capture the Europa League in his final appearance for the club.

Elsewhere, Chelsea do have the competitions top goal scorer in Olivier Giroud, who has scored 10 goals in 12 matches so far. He rarely plays in the Premier League, but it appears his style of play is better adapted in the Europa League, as he continuously bags the goals.

Mauricio Sarri has been under pressure at times this season, but with his side favourites to finish the top four ahead of Arsenal, and if they were to win the Europa League too, this should be considered as a successful first season in charge.

Best Europa League Performance: Winners in 2013

Odds to win it: 11/8 (Favourites)
Odds to beat Arsenal in the final: 9/2
Odds for Olivier Giroud to be the top goal scorer: 2/5

Let’s hope we have two scintillating semi-final matches to look forward over the next couple of weeks, and hope your predictions can be profitable.

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