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Europa League: Spurs and Everton hold firm following draw

| 29.08.2014

UEFA have clearly been learning far too many lessons from Eurovision Song Contests past, judging by their decidedly camp draw for the group stages of the Europa League.

Poor Youri Djorkaeff clearly didn’t know where to look as UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino repeatedly switched from English to French and back again, while helping the former World Cup winner unscrew his stiff balls (this actually happened. Thank you Eurosport).

Those of you tracking the outright markets for the continent’s consolation competition will have noticed that the draw had no impact whatsoever, with Napoli and Spurs still vying for favouritism at 12/1 and 14/1 respectively, with Djorkaeff’s old club Inter next best at 16s.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be the second north London outfit to face Turkish challengers Besiktas in Europe this term, having drawn Demba Ba and co alongside 2013/14 Serbian SuperLiga runners-up Partizan Belgrade and Greek minnows Asteras.

After running Arsenal incredibly close in their Champions League play-off round tie, Besiktas rate the only real danger to Spurs topping Group C, although the surprise Premier League pacesetters will be strong favourites to best Slaven Bilic’s men.

Everton are 25/1 to pick up a European trophy for the first time since 1985, when they added the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup to the First Division trophy, narrowly missing out on an historic treble courtesy of Manchester United’s FA Cup final triumph.

Roberto Martinez’ men have been handed a much trickier task than their Premier League brethren though, with famously-frugal Lille, admirable Bundesliga boys Wolfsburg and Russian unknowables Krasnodar standing in the way of the Toffees and the knockout rounds.

Celtic, the only other Brits left in the competition, take on Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb and FC Astra of Romania, which doesn’t seem too tricky a set of assignments, but Ronny Deila’s side have been so awful of late even 100/1 about a Bhoys outright success seems short.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune