UEFA Europa League 2016-17 round 5 of the group stage will be underway from this Thursday.
Unlike UEFA Champions League, there are lots to play for in this competition. Only three teams have qualified as group topper (Zenit, Shakhtar and Schalke) along with Ajax who are yet to secure top spot. So, all the remaining spots are up for grabs. Some of the groups are really tight. So, it is a very important matchday for many teams. It will give a clearer idea about the qualified teams.
Like so many other groups, Group A is very tight. Fenerbahce (7 points), Feyenoord (7 points) and Manchester United (6 points) are on neck on neck. Manchester United and Feyenoord will play in Old Trafford in a very crucial game. Fenerbahce may take a step forward towards the knockout stage by beating bottom placed Zorya (2 points).
Apoel (9 points) and Olympiacos (7 points) just need to beat Astana (2 points) and Young Boys (4 points), respectively to qualify for the last 32. Young Boys have a tough job but if they can beat the Greek side, they will have a slight chance to qualify.
Anderlecht (8) will go to Azerbaijan to play Gabala (0 point) who so far are the only eliminated team of the UEFA Europa league, this season. Saint-Etienne (8) will have a fierce battle with Mainz (5) points. It’s very unclear picture of which team will qualify, as of now.
Zenit (12 points) are comfortable sitting on the top of the group table with 100% record, this season. They will face Maccabi Tel Aviv (4 points). Dundalk (4 points) and AZ (2 points) will play in another match. Any of these three teams can qualify from this group.
Roma (8 points) may complete the progression to the next round by beating Viktoria Plzen (3 points). Austria Wien (5 points) and Astra (4 points) will battle for another spot. Like many other groups, it is very difficult to predict which teams will qualify.
This is the closest group of them all. Only 1 point separates the four teams in this group. Genk (6 points) will play Rapid Wien (5 points). Athletic Bilbao (6 points) will host Sassuolo (5 points). Evidently, any slip up may cost the tournament and any victory can lead to the qualification for the four sides.
Ajax (10) already qualified from this group. They will welcome bottom placed Panathinaikos (1 point) for the 1st spot. Celta Vigo (5 points) and Standard Liege (5 points) will play for the second spot.
There is a more or less similar situation with Group G. Shakhtar (12) are in top of the group and they will host bottom placed Konyaspor (1 point). Gent (4 points) and Braga (5 points) are fighting for the second spot.
Schalke (12 points), the group champion of Group I, will play bottom placed Nice (3) who can still qualify. In another tough match, Krasnodar (6 points) will play Red Bull Salzburg (3 points).
Fiorentina (10 points) need a point against PAOK (4 points). Qarabag (7 points) will qualify if they beat Slovan Liberec (1 point).
In Group K, the top two sides Sparta Prague (9 points) and Southampton (7 points) and the bottom two sides Hapoel Be’er Sheva (4 points) and Inter Milan (3 points) will play among them. The winner of the first match will certainly qualify, but draws will make this scenario interesting.
The surprise package of Group L, Osmanlispor (7 points) will qualify if they can beat Steaua Bucharesti (3 points). But a win for Romanian side will make this tough. Villarreal (5 points) and Zurich (5 points) will play another match.
Which team will you be rooting for during this UEFA Europa League gameweek? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo by goatling