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Tough draw for Swansea in Europa League, while Benfica await Spurs

| 16.12.2013

Not too long ago Swansea were joint-third favourites for the Europa League after starting the campaign like a house on fire.

But though they did end up qualifying from their group, in the end it was a bit of a stumble over the line and now they are 40/1 shots after a daunting draw against Italian highflyers Napoli.

Michael Laudrup will be hoping that his players can relocate their mojo after an unimpressive run of results in both the Premier League and in Europe since that scintillating 3-0 away win over Valencia in September.

They will need to if they are to get past Napoli, conquerors of Arsenal in the Champions League last week and so unlucky to miss out on qualification to the knock-out stages of the main European competition with 12 points.

Rafa Benitez’s team, currently lying third in Serie A, are now the third favourites for the Europa League at 10/1 behind Juventus (4/1) and Spurs, who have drifted out to 8/1.

Nobody at White Hart Lane will by losing too much sleep after drawing Dnipro (50/1), although the Ukraine outfit, fourth in their domestic league, are certainly no mugs, but these are worrying times for Spurs after the events of the last few days and the market unease is quite understandable.

Serie A leaders Juventus were already worthy favourites to win the Cup on their own ground in May and they have firmed up further after drawing Turkish outsiders Trabzonspor.

But it is likely to get a lot tougher for Juve after that with 12/1 shots Fiorentina (fourth in Serie A) lying in wait in the Round of 16.

Porto (16/1) and Benfica (20/1), two Portuguese sides with wonderful European pedigrees, will fancy their chances of progressing to the last 16 after drawing Eintracht Frankfurt and PAOK respectively.

Benfica will play Spurs in the next round if both teams get through safely, while Porto’s reward will be a match-up with either Swansea or Napoli,

Eintracht  are a blast from the past, having been involved in the famous 1960 European Cup Final at Hampden Park when a magnificent Real Madrid side beat them 7-3 in front of more than 127.000 awestruck fans.

But those days are long gone for the German club, now fighting relegation from the Bundesliga. PAOK, clear of the rest in second place behind Olympiacos in the Greek league, might be a better bet to give Benfica a tough time.

Shakhtar Donetsk (12/1), winners of the competition in 2009 and still a decent side, judging by their performances against Manchester United in the Champions League group stage, have drawn Czech team Plzen, who qualified for this tournament despite losing five out of their six games in the group dominated by Bayern Munich and Manchester City.



Jon Freeman