How do the Europa League odds reflect the UEFA rankings?

The Europa League group stage kicks off on Thursday night and we've taken a look at where the value might lie for the main contenders.

How do the Europa League odds reflect the UEFA rankings?

The Europa League group stage begins on Thursday night and there are a massive 24 matches to enjoy per game week. Although there are 48 teams in the competition, the influx of teams from the Champions League following the completion of the group stages means that we will be focussing on the top 20 teams by betting odds.

Manchester United are the favourites to win the competition, though after a couple of relatively barren years in Europe they have slipped down the rankings. They currently sit at number 21 but the bookies clearly feel their large, experienced squad under the guidance of multiple Champions League winner Mourinho can go all the way.

Inter Milan and Roma are also highly rated, at 18/1 and 15/1 respectively, despite their relative lack of recent success in Europe. Inter have not gone past the first knockout round of any European competition since 2011 and Roma have not achieved that feat since 2008. Their rankings reflect that with both in joint 42nd position.

There are, however, a couple of teams that have done well in Europe in recent times and have excellent pedigree. Schalke 04 are one and they have made the knockout rounds of the Champions League in the last four seasons they have qualified for the competition, reaching the semi finals in 2010/11. Such is their recent experience in Europe, they sit at 14th in the UEFA rankings and are the highest ranked team. Their best odds of 25/1 don't reflect that and they could be dark horses as the competition progresses.

Ajax are the ninth ranked team but sit at 17th favourites for to win the competition. A lot of that has to do with the quality of the Dutch league, with Ajax qualifying for the Champions League or Europa League nearly every season. Their experience and pedigree in Europe does mean that they look a bit undervalued at best odds 66/1 though.