UEFA Europa League, Europa Conference League: When and where to watch matchday one of the matches when the second and third division competitions begin in Europe.
Jose Mourinho during the Roma play-off match in the Europa Conference League. AP
The Europa League continues with a new format: 32 teams instead of 48 and a new playoff round in February.
Almost every team from lower-ranking countries is now represented in the Europa Conference League. The Europa League strikes a curious middle ground with no real minnows involved, and the bigger picture is unclear until the third-placed teams in the Champions League groups move on to those February playoffs.
Leicester vs. Napoli is that outstanding game on Thursday. Both teams occupied the qualifying places in the Champions League for most of the last season, then lost on the last day and fell back to fifth place in the Premier League and Serie A.
Galatasaray vs. Lazio and Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Fenerbahçe bring together some of the most passionate fans in European football. The latter game brings Fenerbahçe captain Mesut Özil back to Germany.
UEFA will be delighted if its latest competition has some high profile figures for the opening campaign. Whether Jose Mourinho and Harry Kane are happy to be those headlines is another question.
With his new team Roma, currently leading Serie A, Mourinho can become the first coach to win all three current UEFA club trophies wins after winning twice the Champions League (with Porto and Inter Milan) and twice the UEFA Cup / Europa League (with Porto and Manchester United). Roma start with a home game against CSKA Sofia.
Kane wanted to play with Manchester City in the Champions League this season. As it is, the English captain will compete in European third division competition, which was essentially created to help countries whose teams cannot realistically fight for the two existing titles.
Like Roma, Tottenham is expected to be deep in Get into the Conference League and begin with a trip to French club Rennes.
Gibraltar, Estonia and Armenia will have teams in a UEFA group stage for the first time, with Lincoln Red Imps, Flora Tallinn and Alashkert starting their campaigns.
September 16, 2021 2:54:04 PM IST
Viktor Claesson’s goal in the second half, after an excellent job by Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski, put Sweden two points ahead of Spain at the top of Group B with one game in hand.
After hitting the winner, he grabbed a camera from a photographer on the sidelines to take pictures of the celebrating fans behind the goal.
Coach Gareth Southgate changed the entire starting line-up after his side’s comfortable 4-0 win in Hungary in the middle of the week – the first time England had changed all players since 1982.
Sign up for a weekly curated briefing on key strategic matters from around the world.