Europa League – Best of the Rest – Round of 32 (Leg 1)

With 16 matchups in the Europa League’s Round of 32, we simply couldn’t write about them all. We did write about eight of the most compelling matchups, either because one of the clubs is a favorite to make it all the way to Baku, or because both clubs have about an equal chance to reach the next round and a small chance to make it all the way themselves.

Here’s the list with links to previews of those eight matchups:

As for the other eight matchups, here’s a brief look at each of those matches, including the favored club for the Round of 32 (according to FiveThirtyEight). Depending on how the first match goes this week, we may cover these eight matches a little more in depth next week.

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Europa League – Round of 32 Draw

Europa League is taking a break until February now that the group stage is complete. But before it does, they needed to determine the pairings for the next round of matches.

The draw took place on 17 December at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. The knockout phase in Europa features 16 more clubs than Champions League, and another round, so they’ll be playing (nearly) weekly matches once play resumes on 14 February.

As a reminder, here’s how the twelve groups were settled during group play:

GroupWinners (seeded in draw)Runners-up (unseeded in draw)
ABayer Leverkusen (GER)Zürich (SUI)
BRed Bull Salzburg (AUT)Celtic (SCO)
CZenit Saint Petersburg (RUS)Slavia Prague (CZE)
DDinamo Zagreb (CRO)Fenerbahçe (TUR)
EArsenal (ENG)Sporting CP (POR)
FReal Betis (ESP)Olympiacos (GRE)
GVillarreal (ESP)Rapid Wien (AUT)
HEintracht Frankfurt (GER)Lazio (ITA)
IGenk (BEL)Malmö FF (SWE)
JSevilla (ESP)Krasnodar (RUS)
KDynamo Kyiv (UKR)Rennes (FRA)
LChelsea (ENG)BATE Borisov (BLR)

Read moreEuropa League – Round of 32 Draw

Europa League – Matchday 6 Scenarios (Part 1)

The final day of the Europa League group stage is here, and we have five of the 12 groups unsettled at the top, with three groups that are still looking for both participants in the knockout phase. 23 clubs enter Matchday 6 playing for 11 remaining spots, attempting to join the 13 clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Dynamo Kyiv, Red Bull Salzburg, Lazio, Sporting CP, Fenerbahce, Real Betis, Dinamo Zagreb, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Zurich – that have already clinched advancement.

Why Winning the Group Matters

For the groups still left to be completely decided, it is in the clubs’ best interest to finish in first place if possible. As a refresher, the knockout phase of Europa League features the first and second place clubs from each of the 12 groups – plus the eight third-place teams from Champions League. Clubs are drawn against each other for two legs (with clubs from the same association unable to face each other), with the group winners and the top four third-place teams seeded for the draw.

Read moreEuropa League – Matchday 6 Scenarios (Part 1)

(UPDATED) Champions League – Matchday 6 Scenarios

It’s time for Matchday 6 in Champions League. Four matches will be played each of the next two days, and while some of the matches won’t matter, there are still 12 spots up for grabs in the knockout phase. Beyond that, there are three groups that have yet to find a third-place finisher – those clubs head over to Europa League’s knockout phase – so we will try to point you towards the games that matter before the Champions League takes a two month hiatus and returns in February.

It’s important to win the group in order to be seeded in the draw for the knockout phase. The seeded team gets to host the second match of the two legs, allowing the seeded club to overcome a poor road showing in their first match if necessary. As mentioned, third place clubs head to Europa, and they too want to do their best, as the top four third-place finishers are seeded in the knockout phase of Europa League.

I’ll be using FiveThirtyEight’s Champions League Predictions when I talk about the various chances for placement within the groups, and reflect the club’s chances of claiming that particular spot. Here’s a group-by-group summary of how today’s results will impact the ending tables, with teams in bold locked into that position:

Read more(UPDATED) Champions League – Matchday 6 Scenarios

Champions League – Matchday 5 Recap

Matchday 5 in Champions League managed to set up a ho-hum Matchday 6 in a couple of weeks, with only one Group without a qualifier through to the next round and all four clubs still eligible to make it through to at least Europa League.

Three groups have the next round participants settled, with only the finishing positions of the top two clubs left to be determined:

  • Group A: Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund advance to the knockout phase, with Club Brugge off to Europa League.
  • Group E: Bayern Munich and Ajax on to knockout, with Benfica heading to Europa League.
  • Group H: Juventus and Manchester United on to knockout, with Valencia heading off to Europa League (farewell Young Boys)

Below are some of the results from the past two days that helped to settle things in certain groups or set up a couple of key matches in a couple of weeks on Matchday 6. As always, home teams are listed first:

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Champions League – Matchday 3 Recap

We are halfway through the Group Stage in the Champions League, and we have three groups that have leaders with the maximum of nine points. While they are not yet assured of advancing to the knockout phase, their chances are much higher, and they can be sealed up with wins on Matchday 4 in two weeks.

We also have two clubs with zero points through three matches, so they would have to go on and amazing run to redeem their Champions League play and possibly qualify for the Europa League by finishing in third place in their groups. However, neither club – Lokomotiv Moscow and AEK Athens – were favorites to advance coming in, and they have shown with their play thus far that people were right.

Finally, we have two of our own “favorite” clubs in the tournament – Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys – that are probably going to miss out on Europa as well. While they have both scored one point through three games, they are far behind their groups in fourth place with terrible goal differentials. I have higher hopes for Young Boys moving up to third, if only because they just drew with the club ahead of them in the group, but they will need to find three points against two clubs that have already defeated them easily.
Here are some of the more shocking results of the first round of matches from around Europe (based on UEFA rankings heading into the match or location). Home teams are listed first:

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Atletico Madrid
Atlético Madrid entered the Champions League Group Stage as the second-ranked club in UEFA; Borussia Dortmund entered in 10th. One would expect a competitive match under those circumstances, not a 4-0 destruction. Maybe Atletico chose not to send their Best XI to the match because they were tied with Dortmund with six points heading into the match, far ahead of the other two clubs in Group A. Maybe they knew that Matchday 4 would see a rematch, except at home in Madrid, so they expect to even the score then. Either way, both clubs are still the overwhelming favorites to advance out of the Group, and will fight for the first position, if only to face off against another group’s second finisher. But the only other matches in the Champions League that have had as lopsided of a score were matches between top clubs and qualifiers, not from two of the top 10 clubs in the tournament.

Read moreChampions League – Matchday 3 Recap