As football fans around the world eagerly anticipate the start of the 2023/2024 Europa League, the buzz is reaching a fever pitch with the upcoming group stage draw. Scheduled for Friday, September 1, 2023, this event will mark a pivotal moment as the teams discover their path in this highly anticipated competition.
Before the draw ceremony kicks off, a series of intense qualifying rounds will determine the 20 teams that will join the 12 already confirmed sides in the group stage. These 12 clubs have already earned their spots through a combination of league positions and tournament victories, setting the stage for an engaging campaign.
Confirmed Teams for the 2023/2024 Europe League
Among the confirmed teams, English football has a strong representation, with West Ham, Liverpool, and Brighton securing their places. West Ham, despite their 14th-place finish in the Premier League, managed to snatch an automatic qualification by triumphing over Fiorentina in the previous season’s Conference League final. Liverpool and Brighton secured their tickets to the Europa League via their fifth and sixth-place finishes in the English top flight.
On the continental front, Spain’s Villarreal and Real Betis are set to showcase their prowess. Although they finished below Sevilla in their domestic league, Sevilla’s remarkable seventh Europa League title win earned them a spot in the Champions League, paving the way for Villarreal and Real Betis to shine on the European stage.
Meanwhile, Italy’s Atalanta and Roma are geared up for redemption after narrowly missing out on previous opportunities. Roma, in particular, lost out to Sevilla in a controversial Europa League final but earned another shot after Juventus faced points deductions. Atalanta’s journey was destined for the Europa League regardless, but a twist of fate saw them rise to fifth due to Juventus’ setbacks.
Germany’s Freiburg and Bayer Leverkusen seized their Europa League berths on the final day of the Bundesliga season. Freiburg, just shy of the top four, and Leverkusen, capitalizing on Wolfsburg’s stumble, are determined to make their mark. In France, Rennes secured a spot by breaking into Ligue 1’s top four, while Toulouse’s triumph in the Coupe de France after 14 years earned them a deserving place.
Completing the ensemble is Sporting CP from Portugal’s Primeira Liga, rounding out the selection of clubs set for the 2023/2024 Europa League group stage.
2023/24 Europa League Confirmed Play-off Teams
The anticipation escalates as the confirmed play-off teams prepare to battle their way into the group stages. The play-offs are slated to begin on August 10, 2023, and culminate on August 31, 2023. The first round of play-off slots will be occupied by teams that clinched third place in leagues ranked seventh to 14th, following UEFA’s coefficient criteria.
The likes of Ajax, LASK, Aberdeen, Cukaricki, Zorya Luhansk, Union Saint-Gilloise, and Lugano are poised for a final qualifying push. Greek giants Olympiacos and Czech Cup champions Slavia Prague will also join the fray, alongside other teams dropping down from various stages of Champions League qualification.
When are the 2023/24 Europa League Group Stage Matches?
With the stage set, fans can mark their calendars for the upcoming group stage matches. The six matchdays are scheduled as follows: September 21, October 5, October 26, November 9, November 30, and December 14, 2023. Once the draw has been made, tickets will be available on sites such as Seatsnet for these matchdays.
Early Favourites for the 2023/2024 Europa League
As we approach the kick-off, speculation abounds regarding the early favorites in the competition. Liverpool, after a challenging Premier League season, is gearing up for their first Europa League campaign since their memorable run to the final in 2015-16. Jurgen Klopp’s side fell short of the top four by just four points, fueling their determination to conquer this prestigious tournament.
Brighton, fresh from an impressive Premier League campaign that saw them secure a sixth-place finish, is set to make their European debut. With their sights set on making a splash on the continental stage, Brighton is one to watch.
West Ham United joins the ranks as the third English team in the mix, having earned their spot by triumphing in the Europa Conference League. Their journey continues as they aim to make their mark in the expanded European competition.
The group stage draw also features notable teams like Villarreal, Real Betis, Atalanta, Roma, SC Freiburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Toulouse, Rennes, and Sporting CP. Roma, in particular, seeks redemption after their defeat in the previous season’s final, which was claimed by the Europa League specialists, Sevilla.
The Underdogs for the 2023/2024 Europa League
Amidst the anticipation and excitement surrounding the 2023/2024 Europa League, one cannot help but wonder about the potential dark horses of the competition. While the spotlight often shines on the favorites, it’s the unexpected contenders that add an element of surprise and intrigue to the tournament. As the confirmed play-off teams gear up for their final qualifying push, let’s take a closer look at some of the potential dark horses and why they could emerge as teams to watch.
While the favorites will undoubtedly command attention, it’s the unheralded teams with a point to prove that add an extra layer of excitement to the tournament. As the journey to the Europa League final unfolds, keep an eye on these dark horses—they could be the ones to create moments of astonishment, celebrate unlikely triumphs, and etch their names into the annals of football history. After all, in the world of football, anything is possible, and it’s the underdogs that often provide the most unforgettable narratives.
One of the powerhouses of Dutch football, Ajax boasts a rich history of success in European competitions. While they may have fallen short in recent years, their pedigree and attacking prowess make them a threat. With a youthful squad brimming with talent and an attacking philosophy ingrained in their DNA, Ajax could seize the opportunity to make a statement on the European stage once again.
Austria’s LASK has steadily risen in prominence over the past few years. Their disciplined and well-organized approach to the game, combined with a knack for upsetting established teams, could make them a tough opponent. LASK’s ability to capitalize on set pieces and exploit defensive vulnerabilities could be a key factor in their potential success.
Scottish football has seen a resurgence in recent times, and Aberdeen is eager to contribute to that narrative. Their tenacity, combined with a strong fanbase that creates a vibrant atmosphere, could serve as a driving force. Underestimate Aberdeen at your peril; they have the potential to pull off surprises and make their mark on the European stage.
While Cukaricki may not be a household name, their underdog status could work in their favor. Serbian football has produced its fair share of surprises, and Cukaricki’s hunger and determination could see them exceed expectations. Their unity as a team and the element of surprise could make them a team to watch closely.
Zorya Luhansk (Ukraine):
Ukrainian football has a history of producing teams that punch above their weight in European competitions. Zorya Luhansk’s resilience, coupled with their counterattacking style, could catch opponents off guard. Their ability to absorb pressure and hit teams on the break could be a potent weapon in their quest to make a mark.
Union Saint-Gilloise (Belgium):
Belgium has been a hotbed of football talent, and Union Saint-Gilloise is poised to showcase that potential. Their attractive style of play and emphasis on fluid attacking movements could trouble opposing defenses. Union Saint-Gilloise’s hunger to prove themselves on the European stage could make them a captivating dark horse.
Swiss football may not always grab headlines, but Lugano’s disciplined approach and tactical flexibility could set them apart. Their solid defensive structure and ability to adapt to different scenarios could make them a tricky proposition for opponents. Lugano’s determination to challenge the established order could lead to unexpected results.
These potential dark horses are gearing up to defy expectations and leave their mark on the competition. Football is a sport known for its surprises, and the Europa League has a history of providing a platform for teams to announce their presence. The underdog stories that unfold on the European stage often capture the hearts of fans and remind us all of the magic of the beautiful game.
Where is the Europa League final in 2024?
The journey to the final crescendo is set to culminate at the Dublin Arena in the Republic of Ireland. With its impressive capacity of over 50,000, the Dublin Arena stands as the perfect stage for the Europa League’s climactic battle. This venue, the home of Ireland’s national football team and rugby union team, will see the crowning of a new champion, as teams vie to etch their names in the annals of football history.
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