We are not yet sure of all the teams who will progress into the knockout stages, as the group stages are still ongoing and also Champions League teams also enter too, which could include holders Porto and Manchester City. However, it’s starting to shape up the next stage and here are my top 3 favourites who I believe can go all the way. The reason why I have chosen these particular teams, it is because I belief that they have more desire to win it, as well as European experience and quality throughout their team.
This is a Spanish side that continues to rise in La Liga. It may be a two horse race in the league, but Barcelona and Real Madrid are on another planet to most teams. Athletic Bilbao have hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next season, which states their ambition for European football. Going to their stadium is always a tricky fixture for any one and they have the quality to go to any stadium and get a result. For me, they are the strongest Spanish side in their this season, and that country has won the Europa League more than any other country. Fernando Llorente is their striker and on form he is unplayable.
Paris Saint-Germain is quickly becoming a force in European football, as they have recently been invested with a lot of money. A lot of the bookmakers have them favourites, and it’s because they are breeding new quality in their team at every transfer window. Jeremy Menez and Javier Pastore both play their trade at PSG, and two quality players who could get in most teams in the world. They are currently in the same group as Athletic Bilbao, but I expect both to qualify, and I reckon they could meet each other again in the final, and what a tremendous final it would be.
This last choice was tough, as Tottenham, Ateltico Madrid and Lazio came to my mind first. However, Schalke reached the semi finals of the Champions League last season, and they can use that experience to go the full distance in the Europa League this time around. Their squad hasn’t changed much from last season, and if anything have got slightly weaker, but if they can use the same spirit as they did last season, then they have a fantastic chance. German teams are on the rise again in my opinion, all play open attractive football and I tip them this Schalke side to come there or thereabouts in the end.