Similar to the Champions League, the 2021/22 Europa League kick-off next month with qualifying fixtures taking place from the beginning of August.
There are a few changes with this year’s tournament which are worth taking note of if you are used to the existing format.
Europa League Changes For The 2021/22 Competition
Firstly, there will be only 32 teams in the group stage rather than the usual 48. These teams will be drawn into eight groups of four with the winners of each group progressing through to the round of the last 16 automatically.
Secondly, UEFA have introduced an additional knockout round which will take place prior to the round of the last 16. These fixtures will feature the runners up of the eight groups along with the top eight teams that finish in third place in the groups. The eight winners of these knockout fixtures will progress through to the round of the last 16 along with the group’s winners.
2021/22 Europa League Teams
The 32 teams in this year’s competition will feature:
- 12 team who automatically qualify
- 10 UEFA Europa League play-off winners
- 10 sides transferring from the UEFA Champions League play-offs and third qualifying round
The following teams are confirmed to have qualified for the group stages of the tournament:
- Belgium: Genk
- Czech Republic: Sparta Prague
- Denmark: Midtjylland
- Spain: Real Sociedad, Real Betis
- England: Leicester City, West Ham
- France: Lyon, Marseille
- Germany: Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen
- Italy: Napoli, Lazio
- Portugal: Braga
- Russia: Lokomotiv Moskow, Spartak Moskow
When Does The Europa League Group Stage Start?
Qualifying fixtures come to an end this week with the group stage draw taking place on Friday 26t7th August at 11am BST.
Group stage matches start in mid-September on the following dates:
- Matchday 1: 16 September
- Matchday 2: 30 September
- Matchday 3: 21 October
- Matchday 4: 4 November
- Matchday 5: 25 November
- Matchday 6: 9 December
Who Are The Favourites To Win The 2021/22 Europa League?
Below are the bookie’s favourites to go all the way in this year’s competition. Check out soccer-tips.org for hot tips on teams to do well in the Europa League.
Leicester City – 12/1
Leicester missed out on a Champions League spot by finishing in 5th place last season behind Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea. Although they would no doubt rather be playing in this competition’s big brother, they will see the Europa League as a much more winnable tournament and the bookies don’t disagree by marking them as favourites to lift the trophy.
Napoli – 14/1
Napoli haven’t made the final of a Europa League competition since the Serie A side last won it back in 1989 when it was the UEFA Cup. However, the two-time Serie A champions have goals in them and are a team to watch in this year’s competition.
Lazio – 16/1
Another Serie A side make it into the bookies top 3 to go all the way in this year’s Europa League. I Biancocelesti finished 6th in the league last season and have only made it through to the final once back in 1998 when they were defeated 3-0 by fellow Italian side, Inter Milan which was the first final of the Europa League that was played over just one leg.
West Ham – 25/1
West Ham have gotten their 2021/22 Premier League campaign off to the perfect start by picking up maximum points in their opening two matches which has left them at the top of the table. David Moyes’ side scored no less than four goals in each of those matches which proves they are a threat in front of goal. If they can transfer that form into their European campaign this term, they may have a chance at having a good run in the competition.
When Is The UEFA Europa League Final?
The 2021/22 UEFA Europa League final is set to take place on 18th May 2022. The match will be played at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium which is the home ground of La Liga club, Seville.