Soccer Picks: Sevilla vs. Benfica Europa League Final

Nila Amerova

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 8:30 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 13, 2014 8:30 PM UTC

Sevilla and Benfica collide in the 2014 UEFA Europa League final in Turin, Europe’s highly competitive second-tier club competition. Find out which way the odds makers are leaning and where the value soccer picks are to be had.

Benfica Bela Guttman Curse
Benfica are through to their second Europa League final in as many years, all the while hoping to end their “Bela Guttman” curse by winnning the title for the first time in 52 years. As the tale goes, former manager Bela Guttman, following a contractual dispute, left the club in 1962 with an ominous prediction hanging in the air “not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever win a European Cup”.

So far, Bela’s prediction holds true. Though they’ve won their domestic title 33 times and have proven to be a side with unquestionable pedigree in all competitions, they’ve repeatedly failed to achieve similar such crowning moments on the European stage. With, arguably, last year’s showdown against Chelsea in Amsterdam the most heartbreaking. So close they came to eradicating the curse only for Branislav Ivanovic’s last-gasp header that nodded the trophy into the Blues’ grasp.

Naturally, they are hoping for a different result this time around. As do experts and pundits alike who’ve observed the Eagles’ impressive season, hailing it as a sign things could actually go their way this time around. Benfica are domestic champions this season and they’ve clinched the Taca de Portugal. Obviously, confidence is high following the home double. And they have great momentum ahead of this clash after eliminating top favourites Juventus from the competition in fine style, beating the Italians 2-1 in Turin before holding them to a draw in the return home leg.  

They are now a match win away from winning the Europa League title, which would also mean pulling off the coveted Treble. Sportsbooks are definitely favouring Benfica to win it all with -150 futures odds but in match betting markets they are listed as the notional favourites at + 125.

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Sevilla loom dangerous
Sevilla are attempting to win their third Europa League title in eight years after winning back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. However, their advance into the final though rather dramatic –  they advanced at the expense of a valiant Valencia in the semis on away goals – left something to be desired. It inevitably takes the shine off their chances that are listed at +120 in futures betting markets to win the title and at +250 soccer odds in match betting markets.

Sevilla’s form of late has been somewhat patchy with three defeats and a draw in their last four fixtures across all competitions, including the 3-1 defeat to Valencia in the second leg of their tie. But there’s an argument to be had about priorities: with La Liga prospects settled inside the Top 6, winning the Europa League title is more important. To put it bluntly, Sevilla loom dangerous despite their disingenuous odds. Make no mistake, they could potentially keep Bela Guttman’s prediction alive, which would be heartbreak for Benfica fans the world over.

Soccer Betting Verdict
Benfica were one of several top favourites to win the title at the start of the competition and when the rounds ticked off, their odds only swelled further. They are now tipped as the hot -150 favourites to win outright in futures betting markets and few disagree with this market cast.

Benfica are the first ever to reach the final without suffering defeat along the way. Clearly, defence is their main weapon with a well-organised and disciplined back line but they have plenty attacking options as well. Overall, Benfica are stronger and better than they were last year against Chelsea and that bodes well for lifting the tedious “Bela Guttman” curse finally. It makes them an attractive soccer pick at +125 in match betting markets to say the least.

Sevilla however can’t be underestimated even if they are tipped large at +250 to win the match. Granted, they were a bit lucky to reach the final. Almost didn’t make it when Valencia gave them a serious run for their money. But they did in the end. That’s the bottom line. What’s more, these are no debutants. They are previous champions and therefore understand exactly what is at stake and what is required to win a prestigious title.

Sevilla could very well turn the odds in their favour. And not by a long shot even. Their main asset is an attacking-minded game, which is particularly lethal on the counter-attack. But when push comes to shove, will it prove deciding? That’s the question. What’s more, problems on defence, which could let the Spanish side down against a very capable Benfica attack, might prove otherwise.

Soccer Free Picks: Benfica to win outright at +125

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