Manchester United more likely to qualify for Champions League through top four than Europa League, odds show

Despite Louis van Gaal and Wayne Rooney looking to Europe's second-tier competition as the route to Champions League football next season, they might be better served remaining focused on the league, according to bookmakers 

Manchester United remain more likely to qualify for next season's Champions League through finishing in the top four in the Premier League than the Europa League, according to bookmakers. 

After yesterday's 2-1 defeat to Sunderland, the club remain six points off the top four places having played a game more than the sides above them.

With just 12 games of the season remaining, hopes that Manchester United can catch one of Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal or Manchester City are fading. 

An alternate route to the lucrative Champions League would be by winning this year's Europa League, a competition Manchester United dropped into after failing to make it out of the group stage of this year's top-tier European tournament.

After the match at the Stadium of Light, both Louis van Gaal and Wayne Rooney suggested that might be the best route.  

"It will be very difficult (to finish in the top four)," said Van Gaal. "It is still possible, but it is very difficult. The way with the Europa League is easier, I think, but also not so easy because there also you have a fantastic European level in that cup, so you have to fight for it.

"You can easily say ' okay, the other way' - but also you have to show your capacity, in every match, you have to show it and we didn't do that today."

Rooney echoed his manager. 

"I don't know how it will work out, but it will be difficult to get into the top four now," said the captain.

"It might be that the Europa League is the way to get into the Champions League. We didn't want to be in the Europa League. But now we'll have to try to win it and start again on Thursday in that competition."

Despite the pair considering it an "easier" way to the Champions League, bookmakers disagree. 

Manchester United are priced at around 11/1 with most bookmakers to win the Europa League - making them the third favourites to win the competition behind Borussia Dortmund and Napoli.

Meanwhile, they are at much shorter odds of 3/1 to finish in the top four in the Premier League, which suggests that despite Saturday's setback, the club must remain focused on their league form. 


Manchester United's Europa League campaign gets started this coming week against Danish minnows Midtjylland.