Europa League 2023/24: Play-Off Teams Aiming to Make Further Progress

Europa League Trophy

Following the conclusion of the opening phase in the Europa League, the stage is set for an exciting collision of European giants.

Eight teams who finished as runners-up in group stage will face eight fallen giants from the Champions League in the play-off round.

The winners of each tie will face the Europa League group winners in the last-16. Let’s take a closer look at what is on the agenda.

Europa League Play-Offs

Feyenoord vs AS Roma

Roma were runners-up in their group behind Slavia Prague and will now face Feyenoord, who finished third behind Atletico Madrid and Lazio in the Champions League.

The pair are destined to meet in Europe for the third consecutive campaign as they bid to seal a place in the last-16 of the competition.

Jose Mourinho’s side beat Feyenoord in the maiden Europa Conference League final in 2022 before knocking them out of last season’s Europa League in the quarter-final.

Mourinho has another chance to beat Arne Slot and make him regret his comments about his style of play, while the Dutchman will be seeking revenge after consecutive defeats.

AC Milan vs Stade Rennais

Rennes finished second in Group F following a disqualified goal in the dying minutes of their final matchday encounter with Villarreal, allowing the La Liga side to finish above them.

Les Rouges et Noirs will take on 19-time Serie A champions AC Milan in the play-off round. Milan beat Newcastle United in their final Champions League group game to book their spot in the Europa League.

The seven-time European champions are the favourites to progress, but Rennes will believe they can cause a major upset against the Serie A side who have never won the Europa League.

Lens vs SC Freiburg

Lens booked a spot in the Europa League over record-time champions Sevilla in their last Champions League group game with a 2-1 victory in France.

They finished third behind Arsenal and PSV Eindhoven, setting them up to clash with Freiburg.

Freiburg finished second in their Europa League group behind West Ham United. The Bundesliga side have been steamrolling opponents in recent weeks and will hope they carry that momentum into the second half of the season.

Lens struggled at the beginning of the campaign but have been gradually working their way back to top form, and this should be an enthralling tie.

Young Boys vs Sporting CP

Young Boys pipped Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League to drop into the Europa League after RB Leipzig and Manchester City clinched the top two spots in their group.

They will now take on Primeira Liga table-toppers Sporting CP, who finished behind Serie A side Atalanta in their Europa League group.

Young Boys have never gone past the last-16 in this competition and will hope this is the year they finally break that barrier.

A well-drilled Sporting side stands in their way, which should make for an exciting clash.

Benfica vs Toulouse

Toulouse face Portuguese powerhouse Benfica in the play-off round. The Ligue 1 underdogs stunned Europe with their upset win over Liverpool in the group stage.

They are hungry for more glory after claiming the French Cup in April. Led by forward Thijs Dallinga, they will hope to expose any cracks in Benfica’s armour.

Toulouse play a Benfica side bruised after dropping down from the Champions League. However, they will fancy their chances in the Europa League.

The two-time Champions League winners will seek to impose their experience and pedigree, aiming to pip Les Violets to a spot in the next round.

Braga vs Qarabag

Prepare for an enticing showdown when Braga and Qarabag match-up. This one is undoubtedly for the die-hard Europa League enthusiasts.

Braga, Europa League runners-up in 2011, are set to face against Qarabag, the formidable Azerbaijani Premier League champions and runners-up in Group H.

The Portuguese side secured third place in their Champions League group and are expected to progress from this encounter.

Galatasaray vs Sparta Prague

Galatasaray conquered Manchester United in their Champions League group to set the stage for a gripping clash against Sparta Prague.

The Turkish side enter the play-off round with well-earned confidence, but would do well not to underestimate the threat posed by Sparta.

They clinched the second spot in Europa League Group C and can be tricky opponents in Europe when they put their minds to it.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Olympique Marseille

Marseille set their sights on Champions League dropouts Shakhtar Donetsk in their quest to advance to the next round.

Gennaro Gattuso’s steady guidance put Marseille on an upward trajectory, winning three consecutive Ligue 1 games before a final-day setback against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Champions League winners in 1993, the Olympians enter the clash with confidence after reaching Europa League final in 1999, 2004 and 2018.

Shakhtar lifted the trophy in 2009. The Ukrainians continue to dominate their domestic league and will look to bring that momentum into this clash.

Beyond the Play-Offs

Awaiting the winners of this clash in the round of 16 are Liverpool, West Ham, Brighton, Rangers, Atalanta, Villarreal, Slavia Prague and Bayer Leverkusen.

Liverpool qualified top of their group despite resting key players. This allowed back-up players such as Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who started most of their group stage games, to impress.

The Reds are the favourites with online bookmakers, who have listed them at odds of 3.25 to lift the prestigious trophy at the Dublin Arena in May.

Another Irish star is leading Brighton from the front. Young striker Evan Ferguson has bagged six goals this season and will hope to fire his side to glory.

Brighton have been handed odds of 13.00 to win the Europa League and will attract plenty of support on Ireland betting apps with Ferguson in their ranks.

Europa Conference League champions West Ham will be gunning for a second consecutive European title, but could find it tough to repeat the feat in this tougher competition.

Bundesliga side Leverkusen appeal as the value bet at odds of 6.50 to win the Europa League, and it would be no surprise to see them face Liverpool in the final.

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