New predicted Europa League group winners emerge with shock finishes for Brighton, West Ham, Liverpool and AEK Athens

Brighton and Hove Albion take their first foray into Europa League football tonight as they welcome Greek champions AEK Athens to the American Express Stadium, 8pm.
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Roberto De Zerbi’s men arrive in confident mood as they are fifth in the fledgling Premier League table with four wins from their first five matches. They have enjoyed back to back 3-1 wins against Champions League outfits Newcastle United and Manchester United and the Brighton supporters are expected to be in fine voice tonight as well.

The Seagulls host AEK for their opening Europa League Group B fixture, with dates against Ajax and Marseille also on the horizon. Tackling some of Europe’s best sides would have seemed like a distance pipedream back when the club’s very existence was under threat in the late 1990s, with the Goldstone Ground sold to pay off debts before Brighton endured spells playing at Gillingham and then Withdean.

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But De Zerbi remains determined to keep a sense of perspective. “We are improving, but we are not a big, big team yet – but we are a good team,” the Brighton boss said.

Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk will lead his team into Europe for the first timeBrighton skipper Lewis Dunk will lead his team into Europe for the first time
Brighton skipper Lewis Dunk will lead his team into Europe for the first time

“We believe in ourselves and the quality of the players, the level of the club, the quality of the play – but we are Brighton, we know our level. We have the ambition to become better and better, step by step in every competition and in every game.”

Premier League rivals Liverpool and West Ham are also in Europa League action tonight as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds take on Austrian outfit LASK Linz in Group E and the Hammers – who won the Europa Conference League last season – take on Serbian SuperLiga team Backa Topola in Group A.

Here’s how the Europa League Group stages are expected to play-off out according to Oddschecker:

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Group A Winner: West Ham 9/10, SC Freiburg 3/1, Olmpiakos 11/2, Backa Topola 25/1. Group B winner: Brighton 5/4, Marseille 9/4, Ajax 7/2, AEK Athens 20/1. Group C winner: Real Betis 4/7, Rangers 7/2, Sparta Prague 7/1, Aris Limassol 16/1.

Group D winner: Atalanta 1/1, Sporting Lisbon 11/8, SK Sturm Graz 8/1, Rakow 12/1. Group E winner: Liverpool 1/6, Toulouse 8/1, Union St Gilloise 10/1, LASK Linz 22/1. Group F winner: Villarreal 4/6, Rennes 2/1, Panathinaikos 9/1, Maccabi Haifa 12/1.

Group G winner: Roma 1/4, Slavia Prague 5/1, Servette 12/1, FC Sheriff 16/1. Group H winner: Bayer Leverkusen 2/5, Molde 5/1, FK Qarabag 6/1, BK Hacken 12/1