Europa League group stage reached its exciting conclusion Thursday afternoon, and 13 of 24 spots are locked up. There are 19 clubs still in the running for the other 11 spots, and those clubs will join the eight third-place clubs coming over from Champions League to join the knockout stage in February, with the draw taking place next week in Switzerland.
Here’s a look at the 13 clubs that are already heading to the promised land of the Round of 32:
- Group A – Sevilla (15 points); APOEL (7 points)
- Group C – Basel (10 points)
- Group D – Sporting CP (12 points); LASK (10 points)
- Group E – Celtic (13 points)
- Group H – Espanyol (11 points)
- Group I – Gent (9 points); VfL Wolfsburg (8 points)
- Group K – Braga (11 points); Wolverhampton Wanderers (10 points)
- Group L – Manchester United (10 points); AZ Alkmaar (9 points)
Today, we’ll take a look at the matches featuring the other 19 clubs that have a chance to clinch a spot Thursday afternoon. The action begins at 6:55pm Central European Time (12:55pm Eastern Standard Time).
Here are the groups with spots still up for grabs:
Dynamo Kyiv (6 points) v Lugano (eliminated)
Copenhagen (9 points) v Malmö FF (8 points)
Favored to advance: Copenhagen (78%) and Dynamo Kyiv (75%)
Dynamo Kyiv is heavily favored to get to 9 points; FiveThirtyEight has them winning in 76% of simulations. They need a win to finish second, and they can’t reach first as they currently lose in tiebreakers head-to-head against both Copenhagen (goal differential in all group matches) and Malmö FF (away goals scored HTH).
So truly the only match that matters here takes place in Copenhagen. A draw between the two clubs advances both of them through to the next round. A win by Malmö does the same, though with the positions reversed (unless Dynamo Kyiv overcomes the goal differential). The only result that gives Dynamo Kyiv a chance of advancing (with a win) is Copenhagen garnering three points. The clubs drew 1-1 on Matchday 2 in Sweden, and with a similar result passing them both through, maybe that’s what we’ll see again.
Getafe (9 points) v Krasnodar (9 points)
Favored to advance: Basel (clinched) and Getafe (85%)
The head-to-head matchup between the second and third place clubs in Group C will determine who joins Basel in the next round. Getafe is favored at the moment because they won the previous match-up 2-1 in Russia, so Krasnodar will need a win (by more than a goal) to advance. As host, Getafe is favored to win 57% of the time, though they lost their last home match in Europa League to Basel. The match kicks off from Coliseum Alfonso Pérez in Getafe at 6:55pm CET (12:55pm EST).
Rennes (eliminated) v Lazio (6 points)
CFR Cluj (9 pts) v Celtic
Favored to advance: Celtic (clinched) and CFR Cluj (79%)
Lazio took a huge step towards qualifying for the next round by defeating CFR Cluj on Matchday 5. Should they both finish with 9 points, Lazio would own the tiebreaker thanks to their away goal in their Matchday 1 loss in Romania. Yet CFR Cluj is favored to advance, and can do so with a draw against 1st place Celtic from Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu in Cluj-Napoca. Nevertheless, they are underdogs (32% to 40%), but with Celtic having nothing to play for but pride (and a chance to remain undefeated), it might be a bit more favorable for the hosts.
Eintracht Frankfurt (9 points) v Vitória de Guimarães (eliminated)
Standard Liège (7 points) v Arsenal (10 pts)
Favored to advance: Arsenal (>99%) and Eintracht Frankfurt (94%)
Arsenal has had a bad couple of weeks in Europa League… and back in England. Seemingly on their way to the Round of 32 after opening the group stage with three straight wins, they drew 1-1 against Vitória de Guimarães, before losing three weeks ago to Eintracht Frankfurt (at home). But they will likely be in the next round regardless, as it would take Standard Liège to overcome their -4-goal differential to Arsenal to prevent them from advancing.
Eintracht Frankfurt is also favored to win and will likely join Arsenal in the next round. It would take a loss (at home) against a club that has already been eliminated, as well as an unlikely win by Standard Liège against a club that beat them 4-0 two months ago. Should both Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liège both end up with 10 points, it would likely reach the bottom half of the tiebreakers to determine who joins Arsenal in the next round. I don’t think it will come to that and I expect the favorites to advance.
Porto (7 pts) v Feyenoord (5 pts)
Rangers (8 pts) v Young Boys (7 pts)
Favored to advance: Porto (87%) and Rangers (82%)
Group G remains the craziest group in Europa League, and all clubs have a chance to reach the Round of 32. Porto is favored to advance since they are hosting struggling Feyenoord… though the Dutch club was victorious when they were the home club back in October. In the other match, Rangers will advance with a draw (or better), but they too are playing a club that they lost to on Matchday 2.
This group has been a big, exciting mess since day one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it has one more day of surprises. We could reach the end of the day with the bottom club in second place or with Rangers in third. Either way, it will be an exciting late-afternoon of action in Porto and Glasgow.
Ludogorets Razgrad (7 points) v Ferencváros (6 points)
Favored to advance: Espanyol (clinched) and Ludogorets Razgrad (83%)
Another head-to-head matchup to determine who advances. Ludogorets scored in the first minute when these clubs last met, on their way to a 3-0 victory in Hungary. If Ferencváros can return the favor in Bulgaria, they would advance. Any other result would see Ludogorets reach the Round of 32, sending home the club that eliminated them from Champions League back in July.
Roma (8 points) v Wolfsberger AC (eliminated)
Borussia Mönchengladbach (8 points) v İstanbul Başakşehir (7 points)
Favored to advance: Roma (99%) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (87%)
It’s no wonder the two clubs currently with 8 points are the ones favored to advance. They both play host Thursday, and both are heavily favored. When these two matchups took place on Matchday 2 –albeit in Austria and Turkey – both matches ended in identical 1-1 draws.
Borussia Mönchengladbach hasn’t had the best tournament thus far, so a win would help redeem them a bit. If they and Roma both finish with 11 points, which is likely, they would even finish first thanks to their home victory on Matchday 4. Wolfsberger AC can play spoiler – they did beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-0 in Germany to surprisingly to open the group stage – but it will most likely be the favorites advancing in this group as well.
After playing, on average, every two weeks since June, it’s time for Europa League to take a break for the holidays. We’ll check back next week after the Round of 32 draw to see how the knockout round will begin in February. Until then, you can follow your favorite club’s exploits back in their home leagues as they take about two months off from European competition.
Until next time…