We’ll find out which three teams we’ll face in the UEFA Europa League group stage on Friday when the draw takes place in Istanbul.
It will be the time when our fans can start planning their continental trips to see us in action, and start dreaming of the trip that ends in Budapest for the final in May.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s competition and who we could be up against in the coming months:
When is the draw?
The draw is scheduled to start at 12:00 BST on Friday. It will be streamed on UEFA.com.
When do the events take place?
Normally, the six group stage matches are spread over 12 weeks, but due to the FIFA World Cup in November, this has been condensed into eight.
These are the six days:
- Day 1: September 8
- Day 2: September 15
- Day 3: October 6
- Day 4: October 13
- Day 5: October 27
- Day 6: November 3
How do groups work?
The 32 clubs are seeded in four pots of eight according to the club coefficient ranking.
The teams will be divided into eight groups of four, each with one team from each seeding pot.
Clubs from the same association cannot tie with each other.
To ensure that paired clubs from the same country (including those playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League) have different kick-off times wherever possible, the eight groups will be distinguished by colour: Groups A to D red and groups E to H blue. When a paired club is drawn, for example, in one of the red groups, the other paired club – once drawn – will automatically be assigned to one of the blue groups. Pairings will be confirmed prior to the draw.
Who has already qualified?
16 teams have already progressed to the group stage:
- Rome (ITA)
- Manchester United (CAT)
- Arsenal (ENG)
- Lazio (ITA)
- Braga (POR)
- Feyenoord (NED)
- Rennes (FRA)
- Real Sociedad (ESP)
- Real Betis (ESP)
- Berlin Union (Germany)
- Freiburg (Germany)
- Nantes (FRA)
- Monaco (FRA)
- Sturm Graz (AUT)
- Union Saint-Gilloise (BEL)
- Midtjylland (DEN)
Who will be the other 16 teams?
The six losers from these Champions League games, which will be played on Wednesday night, will enter the Europa League:
Qarabag (AZE) 0-0 Viktoria Plzen (CZE)
Bodo/Glimt (NOR) 1-0 Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Maccabi Haifa (ISR) 3-2 Red Star Belgrade (SRB)
Copenhagen (DEN) 2-1 Trabzonspor (TUR)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) 0-2 Benfica (POR)
Rangers (SCO) 2-2 PSV Eindhoven (NED)
We will also be joined in the group stage by the eight winners of these Europa League qualifiers, which will be played on Thursday:
Dnipro (UKR) 1-2 AEK Larnaca (CYP)
Gent (BEL) 0-2 Omonoia (CYP)
Austria Wien (AUT) 0-2 Fenerbahce (TUR)
Zurich (SUI) 2-1 Hearts (SCO)
HJK (FIN) 1-0 Silkeborg (DEN)
Malmö (SWE) 3-1 Sivasspor (TUR)
Ferencvaros (HUN) 4-0 Shamrock Rovers (IRE)
Apollon (CYP) 1-1 Olympiacos (GRE)
Pyunik (ARM) 0-0 Sheriff (MDA)
Ludogorets (BUL) 1-0 Zalgiris (LTU)
Who could we face?
Due to our UEFA Club Coefficient Ranking (based on our European performances over the past five seasons), we have been seeded in Pot 1 alongside Roma, Manchester United, Lazio and Braga, so we will avoid these four plus the first three seeds, until the knockout stages.
Pending confirmation of the other 16 teams after the qualification rounds, most of the pots are still in motion, although we know that Monaco (Pot 2) and Union Saint-Gilloise (Pot 4) are already have been placed, meaning you could draw against either or both.
It has also been confirmed that Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Nantes and Sturm Graz will not be included in Pot 1, as well as all potential opponents.
How does the group work?
All group winners will go directly to the round of 16, which will take place on March 9 and 16.
The runners-up will play on February 16 and 23 in a play-off, where they will face the eight teams that finished third in the UEFA Champions League groups for the right to go to the last 16.
The third-placed teams enter the UEFA Europa Conference League, where they will face the group runners-up of this competition in the play-off phase, also on 16 and 23 February.
Whoever finishes fourth will be eliminated from the European competition.
How is the rest of the tournament?
As usual, the Round of 16 will be home and away, although the away goals rule has been scrapped.
The dates for the knockout rounds have been confirmed as:
- Eliminatory qualifiers: February 16 and 23
- Round of 16: March 9 and 16
- Quarter-finals: April 13 and 20
- Semi-finals: May 11 and 18
- End: May 31
The final will take place in Budapest, at the 65,000-seat Puskas Arena.
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