Click here for Part 1 and a look at all the settled groups in Europa League.
Click here for Part 2 and a look at the groups with one spot open.
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.
Both Spots Open
Only one club in these four groups have clinched advancement, so thirteen clubs will be fighting for the remaining seven spots. There are two groups that have all four clubs still in the running, and some crazy scenarios could see the clubs currently leading those groups missing out on the next stage altogether. If you were planning on watching Europa League matches today, these should be the ones that you keep an eye on.
Real Betis (11 points) has clinched a spot in the next round, and is favored to win the group because they face last place F91 Dudelange (0 points) on Matchday 6. Milan (10 points) and Olympiacos (7 points) face off in Greece for second place, with the Greek club needing a big victory to claim second place.
For example, should Olympiacos win 2-0, they take second place based on head-to-head away goals. But if they win 3-1, they would lose the tiebreaker based on total goals scored (fifth tiebreaker). Each goal that Milan scores makes it more difficult for Olympiacos to advance, so they need to hope for a shutout from their defense and lots of scoring. Milan could lose 1-0 and still advance.
FiveThirtyEight gives the edge to Real Betis (90% to finish first) and Milan (74% to finish second), but Olympiacos (16% chance for second) has a chance nonetheless.
Group G joins Group I as the only groups with all four clubs still in the mix.
Matchday 6 sees Villarreal (7 points) hosting Spartak Moscow (5 points) and Rapid Wien (7 points) hosting Rangers (6 points). The simplest scenario is that the two home clubs either win or draw and advance, with seeding determined by the individual results. Should they tie, Villarreal holds the tiebreaker and would win the group.
The away clubs truly control their own destiny. Spartak cannot qualify for the knockout phase unless they win, which would lock them into second place regardless of the outcome of the other match. The Rangers also need to win to advance, as a draw would not be sufficient to advance. They, unlike Spartak, can win the group with a victory and a loss or a draw by Villarreal; a Rangers win couple with a Villarreal win would see the Spanish club in first and the Scottish club in second.
FiveThirtyEight thinks Villareal (69%) will win the group, and Rapid Wien (46%) will finish second. Rangers has an outside chance of winning the group (13%), while Spartak has about the same odds to finish second (14%).
This one is another messy one like Group G. All four clubs can advance, but the clubs currently in the lead host Matchday 6. Genk is the overwhelming favorite to win the groups (82% per 538), with Beşiktaş (58%) the favorite to finish second.
Genk (8 points) leads the group and is the only club with a positive goal differential. They host Sarpsborg 08 (5 points), who are currently in last place. However, Sarpsborg currently holds the tiebreaker between the clubs on account of their 3-1 victory on Matchday 2, so if both clubs end up with 8 points, Sarpsborg would advance. But Sarpsborg will need to win; any other result locks in Genk for the knockout phase regardless of the result of the other match.
Beşiktaş (7 points) hosts Malmö FF (6 points) and will advance with a win or a draw. Like Sarpsborg, Malmö needs to win; a draw would give Beşiktaş eight points, and even a Genk loss would still leave Malmö a point behind the other three clubs.
If those three clubs somehow end up with eight points (a Genk loss/Sarpsborg win and a Beşiktaş draw), it would be Sarpsborg and Genk in the knockout phase (in that order). With how this group has gone over the past three months, this is probably what will end up happening.
Krasnodar (12 points) leads the group, but faces a tough match on the road against Sevilla (9 points). Standard Liège (9 points) has to go on the road, but they will be facing Turkish club Arkhisarspor (0 points), who has thus far gone 0-0-5 with a -10 goal differential.
I expect Liege to end the day with 12 points. They would lose the tiebreaker to a 12 point Sevilla due to goal differential in head-to-head goal differential, and currently lose a tiebreaker to Krasnodar as well (on overall goal differential in group play). They need to go into Turkey and win big – like by 5+ goals – to give themselves the best chance. They need to overcome the current five goal deficit – which would shrink in a Krasnodar loss to Sevilla, but with the matches happening at the same time, they will need to do it in real time.
But that scenario would all be moot if Krasnodar does anything but lose to Sevilla… which I also don’t think is likely. Sevilla has struggled a bit despite being the highest ranked club in Europa League, but those struggles have all come on the road. At home, they have won both matches with a combined score of 11-1. They are more likely to win than not at home, and if they do, it will likely come down to goal differential. Buckle up for this one.
Sevilla is the favorite to win (58%), with Krasnodar favored to finish second (54%).
I hope that whoever you are rooting for today, your club is victorious. Enjoy Matchday 6!
Until next time…