Our handy guide to the Europa League will explain all you need to know about the biggest football competition in Europe.
2021/22 Europa League
Although it may not have the glitz and glamour of its Champions League cousin, it is still a competition that generates of interest across Europe.
Although the Europa League has only been in existence since 2009, the legacy of this football
competition goes back to the 1970/71 season and with it being considered as UEFA’s secondary club tournament, it still a trophy that is hugely desired across Europe.
A trophy that has been hugely desired by La Liga outfit Sevilla and with the Spanish club winning the competition on six separate occasions (both UEFA Cup and Europa League), it is fair to say that their relationship with the Europa League is strong.
While when it comes to Finnish stars who have won this competition (in its previous UEFA Cup guise), the Liverpool pair of forward Jari Litmanen
and defender Sami Hyypiä
helped the Premier League outfit to victory in 2001.
Europa League schedule
In terms of the Europa League
schedule, the competition starts properly each September. Here 32 teams enter the group stage and from each of the eight four-team groups, the group winners will advance to the Round of 16 knockout phase.
While the eight teams that finish second in their groups, will meet the eight third-place teams that have dropped out of the Champions League and when paired together, there will be eight knockout phase play-off ties.
When the winners of these eight Europa League games are then paired with the eight group stage winners, it means the Round of 16 lineup is now complete.
From here, it is a format of home and away Europa League games in the Round of 16, Quarterfinals and Semi-finals. Before the two best clubs in Europe each season, play a one-legged final in a bid to be crowned winners of the Europa League.
Due to the fluid nature of teams who enter this competition, top teams can only be assessed on a season-by-season basis. With that said, when Sevilla finds themselves in the knockout phase of the competition, they usually go on to win it.
While not only does lifting the trophy mean a reason to celebrate, but it also provides qualification to the following season’s Champions League
and since this additional prize has been made available, it has made the UEFA Europa League even more competitive.
Top players and managers
When it comes to the top players in the competition, the current crop of big names come from largely from La Liga and with the trio of Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all switching from the Premier League
to Barcelona, they are now looking to lead Barcelona to victory.
Which is the same that can be said for their manager Xavi and after being installed as Barcelona manager during this current season, there is already considerable progress being created at the Camp Nou.
Another name to look out for this season, is none other than Julen Lopetegui and with the former Spanish international manager now in charge of Sevilla, he will be tasked with returning the Europa League back to Andalusia.
Who will win …
In terms of who will win this season’s competition, it is hard to look past either Sevilla or Barcelona and with the La Liga pair currently at the top of the Europa League odds, backing one of these teams makes the most sense.
Then again, a genuine outside bet could be Rangers of Scotland and with them already knocking out previous favourites Borussia Dortmund, they will be full of confidence in their bid to go all the way to the final and beyond.