Soccer's UEFA Cup Group Stages Begin
By Staff
Following the completion of three qualifying rounds, the UEFA Cup gets back underway tonight with 40 teams from around Europe battling it out to see who will make it to May’s final in Istanbul.

The teams have been organised into eight groups containing five teams each and tonight sees the first round of games. Four sides from England have made it through to the group stages with three of these taking to the pitch tonight.

Tottenham Hotspur are rooted to the bottom of the Premiership and must now face high-flying Udinese, currently sitting second in Italy’s Serie A. Online bookmakers do not see a ‘Spurs’ victory as impossible with Bet365.com, PaddyPower.com, BetDirect.com, StanJames.com and WBX.com giving odds of 3/1 that the London-based side will leave Udine victorious. However, a home win is seen as likely with Totesport.com, Boylesports.com, BetDirect.com, StanJames.com, Ladbrokes.com, Coral.co.uk and WillHill.com going with evens. A draw would not be a bad result for Tottenham and PaddyPower.com is offering 5/2 while most others including BetFred.com, Sportingbet.com, BlueSq.com, 888Sport.com and Coral.co.uk are listing 9/4.

Having one of their best seasons in decades, Aston Villa host Dutch giants Ajax with nearly everyone including BetFred.com, Sportingbet.com and SkyBet.com offering the home side at odds of 4/5. BetDirect.com, Totesport.com, Bet365.com, StanJames.com, Coral.co.uk and WillHill.com are offering ‘The Villains’ at 5/6 while Ladbrokes.com is going with 4/6. An away win is unlikely with BetDirect.com and StanJames.com offering 15/4 while PaddyPower.com and VCBet.com are going with 7/2.

While Manchester City delay its first round of games, Portsmouth rounds out the English interest in the UEFA Cup. The south coast side host Portugal’s Braga with bookmakers including Boylesports.com making them narrow favourites at 11/8. Sportingbet.com is offering 7/5 for a home win while Totesport.com, BetFred.com, 888Sport.com and Ladbrokes.com have 6/4. A Braga victory is down as 8/5 with BlueSq.com, Coral.co.uk and 888Sport.com followed by PaddyPower.com, SkyBet.com, StanJames.com, BetDirect.com at 13/8.
 
 
 
 
 
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