With 48 teams, 24 matches per day and 12 groups, the UEFA Europa League group stage kicks off with 2,160 minutes of the best football every Thursday.
We take a look at what awaits us on this first day, to get in touch with a competition come from big names, glamor and almost as many national champions as the UEFA Champions League.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Celtic – AC Milan
The first Group H game has the glamor of the old European school, as Celtic will take on an entire seven-time champion from Europe like AC Milan for the eleventh time. The Glasgow club’s coach, Neil Lennon, knows very well what it is like to suffer against Milan, having played four of the previous meetings between the two clubs as well as two others as coach without achieving any victory: two draws and four losses.
Zlatan Ibrahimović could already be recovered in Stefano Pioli’s team, and despite Celtic’s numbers against Milan (one win, three draws and six losses), Lennon harbors hope. “They are AC Milan and their name weighs heavily in the world of football, let alone European football. But our players will be excited about it. You always give your best in these games and I hope we can maximize the advantage of playing at home. “, he claimed.
Details to be considered
• Ibrahimović will start the day with 57 goals in UEFA club competition, ranking 13th in the all-time goalscorer standings. Two more goals would allow him to draw with Henrik Larsson (Swedish top scorer in UEFA club competition) and Thierry Henry. The 39-year-old striker is enjoying a spectacular career, but has only won two European titles: the 2009 UEFA Super Cup with Barcelona and the 2017 UEFA Europa League with Manchester United (although in the latter tournament he was unable to play the final due to injury).
• The two North London teams present at the tournament, Arsenal and Tottenham, will face two Austrian teams on matchday one: the gunners They will do it against Rapid Vienna while the spurs they will face LASK. According to UEFA coefficient rankings, Arsenal are the best team in the group stage this season with a coefficient of 91,000 (11th in this European ranking at the moment). Tottenham, with a coefficient of 85,000, is 14th in this classification.
• At 73, Feyenoord manager Dick Advocaat could become the oldest coach to win a UEFA competition if he can lead his team to the final in Gdańsk and win it. However, he could lose the record quickly if Mircea Lucescu, Dynamo Kyiv manager at 75, wins the UEFA Champions League. The current record is held by Raymond Goethals, who was 71 when his Marseille won the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League.
• Granada visit PSV Eindhoven to defend their winning streak in UEFA club competition. Seventh last year in Spain, Diego Martínez’s team makes its European debut this season and has won all three of its matches to date, eliminating Albanian Teuta, Georgian Tbilisi Lokomotive and Swedish Malmö in the qualifying rounds.
• Check the schedule, standings and stats here.