Europa League – Round of 32 – Leg 1 Recap

After an evening full of football all over Europe on Thursday, we have completed the first leg of the Europa League Round of 32. While most matches went as expected, there were a handful of results that went against those expectations and could set up some compelling football in Leg 2 next week.

To recap this week’s action – especially because of the quick turnaround before Leg 2 next week – we’re going to focus this recap on the results that improved the club’s chances most to advance to the next round, based on the odds presented by our friends at FiveThirtyEight. It does not mean that the clubs with the biggest increase are now favored to advanced to the Round of 16; in most cases, the favorites are still the clubs hosting the second leg because they were seeded in the draw. Nevertheless, these four matches all saw their results from this week give them a better chance at making it to the next round.

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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 – 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.

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(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:

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The Future of the U.S. Men’s National Team – Part 1

While we missed out on the opportunity to watch the U.S. men’s national soccer team in the recent World Cup, we can watch some of the players in association football between international friendlies leading up to the CONCACAF Gold Cup next year. We are now just under eight years away from the World Cup being played again on U.S. soil, so the development of these players – and others – over the next 5-7 years will be crucial for success on the international stage.

This list is anything but unanimous (I’ve pieced it together from various sources out there), and there are some youth players out there that might break through in the meantime. That being said, many players on this list could potentially be playing on the senior team when the U.S. co-hosts that 2026 World Cup.

In part one of two, we’ll cover the defensive side of the ball with nine players that could be on the field for the USMNT over the next few years. Part two will cover the “offensive” midfield and forwards. 

Read moreThe Future of the U.S. Men’s National Team – Part 1