The draw for the UEFA Europa League group stage took place on the first day of autumn. Just yesterday, the clubs finished their qualifying matches, and today, they were distributed into four groups.
- West Ham
- Backa Topola
Do you know the most expensive player of the Serbian Backa Topola, who unexpectedly made it to the group? Midfielder Ifet Djakovac is worth €2.5 million. West Ham's squad is almost €450 million, twenty times more than the total value of their future opponent's players. But let's forget about fairness and immediately highlight the main underdog.
Olympiacos and Freiburg will compete for the second place. But the German club seems preferable here due to its more solid lineup.
This is a much more exciting and balanced group. It was like a mini-Champions League, as at least three clubs, except for AEK, could have performed there. And AEK only made it in at the last moment. Ajax missed out on the Champions League this time but quickly found their place in the Europa League group stage. They should make it to the playoffs, but they are unlucky with their competitors.
There's the powerful Brighton with an attack featuring Fati, Joao Pedro, and Mitoma. And Marseille, a very experienced participant in European competitions, is determined to reach the playoffs. So, this group is very unpredictable. This is the proper "group of death."
- Real Betis
- Sparta Prague
Particular attention should be paid to Aris here. The Cypriots couldn't make it to the Champions League group stage but got into the Europa League group stage in style by defeating Slovan (6-2 in the second leg). They intend to avoid lingering at the bottom and will try to compete with more prestigious opponents.
Rangers and Real Betis are likely to compete for the top spot. Sparta Prague needs a stronger squad for that.
- Sporting Lisbon
- Sturm Graz
Atalanta is currently the most powerful club on this list. They and Sporting Lisbon will likely battle for the top spot.
Sturm Graz and Rakow cannot compete with the two opponents who could have even made it to the Champions League. So, they will compete for the third place at best.
- Union Berlin
Liverpool got the easiest accessible group possible. So Klopp can easily field his second or third team to advance to the playoffs without any problems. LASK barely made it into the group stage, defeating Bosnian Zrinjski with incredible difficulty. Can you feel the difference in level?
Union Berlin may be good in Belgium, but they seem like they need to be more formidable opponents. Toulouse could have missed the tournament, as they share an owner with Milan. But things ended positively. However, their 13th-place finish in the previous season characterizes the team's strength.
- Maccabi Haifa
Not long ago, Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, but now their ambitions are more modest. However, they enter the tournament as recent winners, having lifted the trophy in 2021 by defeating Manchester United in the final. But Unai Emery has long since left the team, and now Kike Setien is with them.
Rennes is a strong contender for the second place, but Panathinaikos is also in the mix.
- Slavia Prague
- Sheriff Tiraspol
Recent Europa League finalists Roma lost in the decisive match to Sevilla on penalties (who would have doubted). Still, there's a new road to the trophy, and they have Lukaku in their squad. Romans, like almost all other favorites, got lucky with their opponents. Slavia Prague might be the only cause for concern. There shouldn't be any problems with the others.
- Bayer Leverkusen
Remember what you read about the first group? This is a similar story here. Bayer, with a squad worth €446 million, will face matches against Qarabag (€14 million), Hecken, and Molde (€22 million). So, for the Germans, this should be a relatively easy pastime, even without Sardar Azmoun, who moved to Roma.
The other three clubs will definitely compete for the second place. But Qarabag currently appears to be the underdog.