We have completed four matches in the group stage of Europa League, and unlike the Champions League, where only one club has punched their ticket to the next round, there are seven clubs in Europa that have clinched no worse than second in their respective groups:
- Bayer Leverkusen leads Group A with 9 points (goal differential of +3), ahead of…
- Zürich because Bayer leads in away goals in head-to-head matchups
- Dinamo Zagreb is undefeated in Group D and leads second place Fenerbahçe by five points
- Arsenal leads Group E, and plays the two worst teams in the group over the last two matches
- Eintracht Frankfurt leads Group H and is undefeated, including a victory over…
- Lazio, who hopes to enter Matchday 6 with a chance at the group in their rematch against Eintracht Frankfurt
- Chelsea, undefeated in Group L
These seven clubs have been assured of advancing into the next round of Europa League, where the eight third-place finishers in Champions League group stage will join the tournament. That group currently includes clubs like Tottenham Hotspur, Paris Saint-Germain, and Valencia, which is why those three clubs are in the top ten in odds for winning Europa this season. Chelsea remains favored thus far, both for their dominating performance in Group L, but also for their play in the Premier League this season.
Nevertheless, some of the most exciting action in Europa League this week didn’t involve these seven clubs, so here’s a brief look at some of the results and why it caught our attention:
Celtic 2-1 RB Leipzig
Celtic may not have moved into second place in Group B due to this victory – they remain behind RB Leipzig due to head-to-head goal difference – but they kept themselves in the tournament for at least another match. They started the group stage as the second best club in the group behind Red Bull Salzburg, but found themselves buried in third place after a Matchday 3 loss to Leipzig. By winning Thursday, however, they ensure that they could be fighting for a spot in the next round should they repeat their performance against group weakling Rosenborg in a couple of weeks, setting up a final group stage matchday where the top three clubs could be playing to advance.