Five of the six UEFA Europa League games will go ahead behind close doors across Europe on Thursday as the Round of 16 first legs, quite remarkably, will take place with Man United and Wolves in action.
The two Premier League clubs who remain in the Europa League, Man United and Wolves, travel to LASK in Austria and Olympiacos in Greece for their respective first legs but both games will be played in empty stadiums.
Wolves have issued a statement criticizing UEFA after they wanted their game at Olympiacos to be postponed due to Olympiacos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis being diagnosed with coronavirus. Olympiacos have since confirmed all of their staff and players have been tested and their tests have come back as negative and the game will be played in an empty stadium in Greece.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo will see this competition as a great way to secure Champions League qualification given the congested nature of the top four battle in the Premier League and both Man United and Wolves have taken this competition very seriously, albeit with a bit of squad rotation especially in United’s case. Both United and Wolves are heavily favored to advance to the Europa League quarterfinals are United are the favorites and Wolves the third favorites (behind Inter Milan) to win the whole thing.
Looking elsewhere there is what looks like a lopsided battle between Bayer Leverkusen and Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers as the German side continue their uptick in form, while Rangers have struggled in the Scottish Premiership after they knocked out Braga in the last round. Their game at Ibrox is the only one scheduled to have fans in attendance.
Eintracht Frankfurt against Basel will be an intriguing clash, so too will Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen as the former have the likes of Demba Ba, Martin Skrtel and Gael Clichy in their squad. Wolfsburg v. Shakthar Donetsk also takes place with the German side favorites to advance.
Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s Europa League games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action live and we will have analysis on Man United and Wolves right here on ProSoccerTalk.
Thursday’s UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg schedule
LASK Linz v. Man United – 1:55 p.m. ET
Eintracht Frankfurt v. FC Basel – 1:55 p.m. ET
Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen – 1:55 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Wolves – 4 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Glasgow Rangers – 4 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Shakhtar Donetsk – 4 p.m. ET
Inter Milan v. Getafe – Postponed
Sevilla v. Roma – Postponed
Premier League side Burnley face Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen in their Europa League second qualifying round game this week and if the Clarets are victorious they now know they will face Turkish outfit Istanbul Basaksehir.
The likes of Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gokhan Inler and Arda Turan all play for Basaksehir who finished third in the Turkish Super Lig last season, just three points behind first-place Galatasaray.
Celtic will play against AEK Athens if they get past Rosenborg in their UCL second qualifying round ties, while there is a big clash set up in the UCL third qualifying round in the League Path as Benfica play against Fenerbahce.
Below is a look at the draws in full for the UCL and Europa League third qualifying rounds.
UEFA Champions League(to be played August 7/8, 14)
Celtic (SCO)/Rosenborg (NOR) v AEK Athens (GRE)
Salzburg (AUT) v Shkendija (MKD)/Sheriff (MDA)
Crvena zvezda (SRB)/Sūduva (LTU) v Legia Warszawa (POL)/Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Kukes (ALB)/Qarabag (AZE) v BATE Borisov (BLR)/HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Astana (KAZ)/Midtjylland (DEN) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
CFR Cluj (ROU)/Malmo (SWE) v Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)/Vidi (HUN)
* clubs who lose in this round qualify for the Europa League champions path playoff round
Standard Liege (BEL) v Ajax (NED)/Sturm Graz (AUT)
Benfica (POR) v Fenerbahce (TUR)
Slavia Praha (CZE) v Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
PAOK (GRE)/Basel (SUI) v Spartak Moskva (RUS)
* clubs who lose in this round qualify for the Europa League group stage
UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round (to be played August 9, 16)
Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)/Vidi (HUN) v Zrinjski (BIH)/Valletta (MLT)
Legia Warszawa (POL)/Spartak Trnava (SVK) v F91 Dudelange (LUX)/Drita (KOS)
Sutjeska (MNE)/Alashkert (ARM) v CFR Cluj (ROU) v Malmö (SWE)
Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v Crusaders (NIR) v BATE Borisov (BLR)/HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Shkendija (MKD)/Sheriff (MDA) v FC Santa Coloma (AND)/Valur Reykjavík (ISL)
Cork City (IRL) v Celtic (SCO)/Rosenborg (NOR)
Spartaks Jurmala (LVA)/La Fiorita (SMR) v Crvena zvezda (SRB)/Suduva (LTU)
The New Saints (WAL)/Lincoln Red Imps (GIB) v Astana (KAZ)/Midtjylland (DEN)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) v APOEL (CYP)/Flora Tallinn (EST)
Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)/Vikingur (FRO) v Kukes (ALB)/Qarabag (AZE)
Main path Tobol Kostanay (KAZ)/Pyunik (ARM) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)/Radnicki Nis (SRB)
Dunajska Streda (SVK)/Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Zenit (RUS)
Ajax (NED)/Sturm Graz (AUT) v Dundalk (IRL)/AEK Larnaca (CYP)
St. Gallen (SUI)/Sarpsborg (NOR) v HNK Rijeka (CRO)
İstanbul Basaksehir (TUR) v Aberdeen (SCO)/Burnley (ENG)
Zorya Luhansk (UKR) v Braga (POR)
Hapoel Haifa (ISR)/FH Hafnarfjordur (ISL) v Atalanta (ITA)/Sarajevo (BIH)
Genk (BEL)/Fola Esch (LUX) v Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR)/Lech Poznań (POL)
Viitorul (ROU)/Vitesse (NED) v PAOK (GRE)/Basel (SUI)
Nordsjælland (DEN)/AIK (SWE) v Partizan (SRB)/Trakai (LTU)
Hibernian (SCO)/Asteras Tripolis (GRE) v Molde (NOR)/Lac (ALB)
Hajduk Split (CRO)/Slavia Sofia (BUL) v Rudar Velenje (SVN)/FCSB (ROU)
Sevilla (ESP)/Ujpest (HUN) v Zalgiris Vilnius (LTU)/Vaduz (LIE)
Sigma Olomouc (CZE) v Kairat Almaty (KAZ)/AZ Alkmaar (NED)
Balzan (MLT)/Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v Rapid Wien (AUT)
Djurgarden (SWE)/Mariupol (UKR) v Ventspils (LVA)/Bordeaux (FRA)
CSKA-Sofia (BUL)/Admira Wacker Modling (AUT) v Stjarnan (ISL)/Kobenhavn (DEN)
Olympiacos (GRE) v Luzern (SUI)
Osijek (CRO)/Rangers (SCO) v Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO)/Maribor (SVN)
Gornik Zabrze (POL)/Trencin (SVK) v Feyenoord (NED)
Jagiellonia Białystok (POL)/Rio Ave (POR) v Gent (BEL)
Spartak Subotica (SRB)/Sparta Praha (CZE) v Brondby (DEN)
Ufa (RUS)/Domžale (SVN) v Budapest Honved (HUN)/Progres Niederkorn (LUX)
B36 Torshavn (FRO)/Besiktas (TUR) v LASK (AUT)/Lillestrom (NOR)
Zeljeznicar (BIH)/Apollon Limassol (CYP) v Dinamo Brest (BLR)/Atromitos (GRE)
Leipzig (GER)/Hacken (SWE) v U Craiova (ROU)
If you would’ve told Ronald Koeman his Toffees would walk into this match with just one point but sit only another behind Lyon, he’d probably tell you to take a hike. But Lyon drew 1-1 at Apollon Limassol and 1-1 at home to Atalanta, opening the door for Everton to finish the day in Group E’s top two slots.
Nabil Fekir and Real Madrid loanee Mariano Diaz have seven goals each for Lyon, while ex-Premier Leaguers Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traore are also key components of the French outfit’s attack.
Red Star Belgrade vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal in Europa has been pretty thrilling, with 3-1 and 4-2 wins under Arsene Wenger‘s belt ahead of the first of two with the 1991 European Cup winners. It’s a nice challenge for Canadian national team backstop Milan Borjan, who should be the man to try to thwart the Gunners in Serbia.
Hoffenheim vs. Istanbul Basaksehir — 3:05 p.m. ET
The favorites to win the group are dead last in the group as they welcome the perceived group underdogs from Turkey. The Super Lig runners-up have some familiar names on the roster with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Eljero Elia, Mevlut Erdinc, Gokhan Inler, Aurelien Chedjou, and Emre Belozoglu.
AC Milan vs. AEK Athens — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan has been burying goals in Europa play, with five at Austria Wien and three in a home win over Rijeka. Enter Athens, which has scooped up four points in group play and will look for a win to put them ahead of the group-leading i Rossoneri.
Nice vs. Lazio — 1 p.m. ET
The only group with a pair of 2-0 teams. Mario Balotelli is plenty familiar with his Roman opposition from his time in Serie A.