With one game left before the end of the UEFA Europa League group stage, it's time to rank the true contenders. This is also the last edition of the tournament that will see teams relegated from the UEFA Champions League playing in the knockout stage, and in this ranking we only consider the teams playing the group stages of the current season. While sides like Manchester United and AC Milan could very well find themselves in the knockout stage if they finish third in their UCL group, let's take a look at the current teams with the best chance of lifting the trophy in Dublin on May 22:
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It's impossible not to mention Atalanta when we talk about teams that can potentially win the competition. The Italian team have enough experience in the recent years in the European competitions and the next step is to win a trophy, as the Nerazzurri still have failed to win a cup since coach Gian Piero Gasperini took charge and started an incredible and exciting cycle at the club. The club in the summer signed some important players that can help to achieve such success like former West Ham Gianluca Scamacca, who also scored a stunner against Sporting CP in Thursday's 1-1 draw, and he's scored six goals so far this season in all competitions.
4. Brighton and Hove Albion
Roberto De Zerbi's side are one to watch for the final victory of the Europa League, purely because they play a great football but also because of the talent available they have on the roster. The Italian coach was able to create a great environment in the team since he took charge in September 2022 and the team improved a lot since he arrived. This season, also due to some injuries, they had a challenging start but they are fully in the race for a European spot again. Winning the Europa League is probably their best chance to have access in the next edition of the Champions League, considering the level of the competition of the Premier League this season.
3. AS Roma
The team coached by Jose Mourinho comes from two consecutive European finals and this can make a huge difference especially for the knockout stages. The Giallorossi, under the Portuguese coach, won the 2021-22 edition of the UEFA Conference League and lost to Sevilla the UEFA Europa League final last season. This experience can be a key factor for Mourinho's boys against squads with less confidence in these kind of games. Compared to the last year, the Italian side signed a player like Romelu Lukaku who already scored nine goals in 15 games so far in all competitions and can be crucial in the last phase of the competition against bigger clubs. He found the net in the 1-1 draw against Servette on Thursday.
Talking about sides that know how to win, Liverpool have to be in the top five of the ranking as Jurgen Klopp's side are definitely one that will contend the cup until the very end. Even if the Reds will likely focus more on the Premier League in the second part of the season after a great start (Liverpool are currently two points behind Arsenal that are leading the table), the experience and the qualify of the players in the roster will make the difference. The English side have also improved their depth of the squad and can alternate players for both competitions.
1. Bayer Leverkusen
The German side are by far the most impressive of the season on both domestic and international level. The club coached by Xabi Alonso continue to impress due to the quality of football expressed but also for the results as they are still unbeaten and won 17 out of 18 clashes so far in all competitions. Xabi's team scored 62 goals and only conceded 14 so far and are definitely one of the sides to watch for the final win of the competition. Last year, Bayer reached the semifinals only to lose against Jose Mourinho's AS Roma (1-0 aggregate).
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