MATCHDAY: Europa League knockout spots to be decided
A look at what’s happening in the final round of group games in the Europa League and Europa Conference League on Thursday:
Only teams who finish in first place in the eight groups qualify directly to the last 16 and four teams have done that: Real Betis, Union Saint-Gilloise, Freiburg and Ferencváros. Manchester United and Arsenal are the biggest names in the competition and head into the final round of games looking to seal top spot in their groups. Arsenal has the easier task, with the Premier League leaders just needing to beat Zurich at home to guarantee first place ahead of PSV Eindhoven. PSV, two points behind Arsenal in second place, visits Bodø/Glimt. United trails Real Sociedad in their group — with both teams certain of a top-two finish — and they meet in Spain. Having lost 1-0 at home to Sociedad at the start of group play, United needs to win by two goals or more to finish group winner. Fenerbahce and Rennes are way clear in Group B and level on points ahead of games against Dynamo Kyiv and AEK Larnaca, respectively. Group F is the tightest with all four teams — Lazio, Sturm Graz, Feyenoord and FC Midtjylland — having the possibility to advance.
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
West Ham has already won its group and can now aim to be the first team to win all six group stage games since the Europa Conference League was launched last season. Manager David Moyes could opt to rest some key players for the game at Romanian club FCSB, which cannot advance. Cologne and Nice face off in their final game in Group D, with the winner assured of advancing. Fiorentina takes on Latvian team RFS aiming to win its group, but will need Istanbul Başakşehir to drop points against Hearts. Group C winner Villarreal plays Lech Poznan. Group winners go directly to the last 16, and second-place teams go into a playoff against the clubs placing third in Europa League groups.
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