Click here for Part 1 and a look at all the settled groups in Europa League.
There are eight groups – and 23 clubs – that will actually have something to play for during Matchday 6. I’ve broken these eight groups into two groups of four: those with one spot open and those with both spots open. I tried to outline all the scenarios based on potential outcomes today without diving too deep into the tiebreakers; if seeding or advancement comes down to disciplinary points (the 11th tiebreaker), than you won’t find those here. (I’m just honestly not that great at predicting scores).
The completely open groups will be discussed in Part 3, which is where the most excitement will be happening. In both posts, I’m going to be referencing the FiveThirtyEight Europa League Predictions to show which clubs are favored for what spots, so feel free to open that link in a separate window/tab so I don’t have to keep linking it later.
One Spot Open
The four groups here have all had one club clinch first place in the group and earning the seed in the knockout phase. Nine clubs will be competing for the three second place spots, and there are only a few instances where the clubs competing for that spot actually face each other.
Red Bull Salzburg (15 points) has clinched the group. Celtic (9 points) and RB Leipzig (6 points) are playing for second, and are hosting Matchday 6, with Leipzig playing Rosenborg and Celtic playing Red Bull Salzburg.
In the event of a tie, Leipzig owns the tiebreaker over Celtic due to goal differential in their head-to-head matchups (+1 vs -1). They are also facing off against a club that has lost all five group matches thus far, including 3-1 to Leipzig on Matchday 2. Nevertheless, they need to win while hoping for a Celtic loss in order to advance.
Celtic lost 3-1 to Red Bull Salzburg when they played in Austria, and should expect Leipzig to win, so they need at least a draw to ensure they advance. They truly control their own fate in advancing from the group. A positive result assures that they advance, while a negative one leaves it up to Leipzig. FiveThirtyEight gives Celtic the edge on claiming second (76%).
Zenit Saint Petersburg (11 points) has clinched first place as they are four points clear of second place Slavia Prague (7 points). Copenhagen (5 points) and Bordeaux (4 points) can still claim the second spot as well, and will face off in Denmark hoping to give themselves a chance.
Slavia Prague has the easiest path to second place (a 75% chance according to 538); a win at home against Saint Petersburg gets them to 10 points and clear of the other clubs. A draw gets them to eight points and advancement as well, as they hold the tiebreaker over Copenhagen due to head-to-head results.
However, should they lose, they need to hope for a draw in the other match, as a win by Bordeaux would result in them losing the head-to-head tiebreaker to the French club, while a win by Copenhagen would give the Danes eight points and second place. Slavia Prague lost to Saint Petersburg when they faced off in Russia, so they have to hope that having the home field gives them the advantage in this one.
Dynamo Kyiv (11 points) has clinched first because they own the tiebreaker over Astana (8 points) because of head-to-head points. They play last place (and eliminated) Jablonec (2 points) in a meaningless game for both squads. Rennes (6 points) needs a win at home versus Astana to advance. Pretty straightforward in this one.
FiveThirtyEight has this one as 50/50 between the Kazakhs and the French.
Chelsea (15 points) is undefeated in group play and has clinched first (and remain the favorite to win the whole thing). They will travel to Hungary to face a MOL Vidi (6 points) club that needs a win to have any chance of advancing. Second place BATE Borisov (6 points) lost at home to PAOK (3 points) on Matchday 2, will advance if they can win in Greece and earn revenge.
If Borisov and Vidi end up tied with 9 points, Borisov would be the second place club and unseeded in the knockout phase because they own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The most likely scenario (according to 538) is that we’ll have three clubs tied with 6 points (Chelsea and PAOK wins). Should this happen, PAOK would advance over the others due to what would be their six points head-to-head against Borisov, who would finish third ahead of Vidi for the same reason.
Click here for Part 3