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Europa League predictions: Group stage matchday 6


Considering the hectic nature of modern footballing schedules, the avoidance of two extra fixtures is a luxury for those seeking to advance deep into the Europa League.

UEFA’s reformation of the competition following the introduction of the Europa Conference League means the round of 32 has been replaced by the knockout play-off round. The eight teams that finish second in their group will face off against one of the third-place Champions League teams for a spot in the round of 16.

The Europa League group winners, meanwhile, earn a ticket straight into the last 16.

Thus, with the final matchday of group fixtures upcoming, there’s plenty to look out for. While we already know the vast majority of the teams that have advanced, top spot is still at stake in five of the eight groups.

West Ham, Brighton and Rangers are each vying to join Liverpool in the round of 16.

Here’s how 90min predicts Thursday’s Europa League action will play out.

Early kick-offs

Luis Diaz

Liverpool have already won Group E ahead of their trip to Union Saint-Gilloise / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Liverpool secured their place in the round of 16 after thumping LASK at Anfield on matchday five. They now have nothing to play for in Brussels as their group stage concludes against Union Saint-Gilloise.

USG must beat the Reds and hope bottom dwellers LASK overcome Toulouse in Austria to qualify in second place.

Rennes and Villarreal have been the two standout sides in Group E, and the two clubs face off in France on Thursday. Villarreal have rallied after losing on matchday one, although their draw to Maccabi Haifa has hindered their chances of pipping Rennes to top spot. The Spaniards must now beat the French side away from home to win Group E.

Panathinaikos then host Maccabi Haifa hoping to secure third spot in the group which would see them drop into the Europa Conference League knockout play-offs.

Kick-off Time (BST)

Fixture

Group

Prediction

17:45

Union Saint-Gilloise vs Liverpool

E

1-1

17:45

LASK vs Toulouse

E

0-1

17:45

Rennes vs Villarreal

F

1-1

17:45

Panathinaikos vs Maccabi Haifa

F

2-1

17:45

Slavia Prague vs Servette

G

1-0

17:45

AS Roma vs Sheriff

G

2-0

17:45

Qarabag vs Hacken

H

2-0

17:45

Bayer Leverkusen vs Molde

H

3-1

It looks like Roma will be forced to compete in the knockout play-offs even if they beat Sheriff in the Italian capital on Thursday. Roma’s defeat in Prague on matchday four means it’s likely that Slavia will top Group G.

The Czech side are expected to beat Servette at home on Matchday 6.

Bayer Leverkusen‘s Bundesliga dominance has carried over to the Europa League with Xabi Alonso’s side looking to complete the perfect group stage on Thursday. Leverkusen host Molde on matchday six and the Norwegian side need points to beat out Qarabag to second place in Group H.

Molde must better Qarabag’s result, but the Azerbaijani side are taking on a Hacken team that are yet to notch a point in the competition this term.

Late kick-offs

Joao Pedro, Kaoru Mitoma, Simon Adingra, Lewis Dunk

Brighton are playing for top spot in Group B against Marseille / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Tomas Soucek’s late winner in Serbia last time out leaves West Ham in pole position for top spot in Group A. Their victory in Germany on matchday two means the Hammers need just a point against SC Freiburg to win the group.

There’s little at stake in the group’s other game as Olympiacos host strugglers Backa Topola.

Brighton, who picked up just a point from their two group games, also have the chance to win their group on Thursday as they play host to group leaders Marseille. The Ligue 1 side are enjoying life with Gennaro Gattuso at the helm, and Brighton’s domestic form has taken a considerable hit in recent weeks.

The Seagulls have advanced into the knockouts, and they need a win at the Amex to seal top spot.

Ajax‘s Europa League campaign has been miserable, but victory in Amsterdam over AEK Athens will see them drop into the Europa Conference League play-offs.

Kick-off Time (BST)

Fixture

Group

Prediction

20:00

West Ham vs SC Freiburg

A

2-1

20:00

Olympiacos vs Backa Topola

A

2-0

20:00

Brighton vs Marseille

B

2-2

20:00

Ajax vs AEK Athens

B

3-1

20:00

Real Betis vs Rangers

C

1-0

20:00

Aris Limassol vs Sparta Prague

C

0-0

20:00

Sporting CP vs Sturm Graz

D

2-0

20:00

Rakow Czestochowa vs Atalanta

D

1-4

Philippe Clement has done a sterling job at the start of his Rangers career, but it’s going to take a memorable victory for the Gers to top Group C. In fact, they’re yet to progress from their group and are at risk of finishing third.

Their trip to group leaders Real Betis is imposing, but the La Liga side have been far from dominant. Betis have taken nine points from five group games and they, too, could be eliminated should they lose on Thursday.

Sparta Prague‘s victory over Betis on Matchday 5 shook up Group C, and a win for them away at Aris Limassol will guarantee their place in the knockouts.

Atalanta’s head-to-head superiority over Sporting CP means there won’t be much drama in Group D with the Serie A side finishing atop the group. Sporting will compete in the knockout play-offs.

Atalanta visit Rakow Czestochowa on Thursday, while Sporting host Sturm Graz. The other two teams in the group each have four points and can’t be separated by head-to-head, but Sturm Graz boasts a superior goal difference (by one goal).

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