Europa League group stage draw: All you need to know

Who can still qualify? Which sides can the Premier League clubs face? And how will coronavirus affect the competition? All you need to know ahead of the final Europa League qualifiers and the group stage draw

  • The Europa League group stage draw takes place on Friday, October 2
  • Arsenal and Leicester are the confirmed Premier League teams involved
  • Tottenham can join them, as well as Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers
  • A further 21 play-off matches will take place on Thursday night this week
  • Losers from the six Champions League play-off matches will drop down 

The major footballing leagues across Europe are in full swing by now, but this week the make up of the continental competitions will also be decided.

The draw for the group stage of the Europa League, which begins next month, takes place this week, with Arsenal and Leicester the only confirmed English sides involved.

Tottenham can join them if they progress from their play-off on Thursday night, with Celtic and Rangers also attempting to seal their places. 

Sevilla were crowned Europa League winners in August but will not be in this year’s contest

There are still 27 spots up for grabs in the group stage draw this week, which will be decided by 21 play-off matches on Thursday nights and the six Champions League play-off matches also being played on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still wreaking havoc across Europe, UEFA are braced for the most logistically challenging competition ever.

Here, Sportsmail guide you through everything you need to know about the group stage draw…

WHEN IS THE DRAW?

The group stage draw will take place this Friday, October 2, from 12pm.

WHERE IS IT TAKING PLACE?

This season’s group-stage draw was originally scheduled to take place in Greece but it has now been moved to Switzerland, where UEFA’s headquarters are based.

The draw will be streamed live via Uefa’s official website, while BT Sport will also provide coverage. 

The final will be played in Gdansk, after last season’s tournament was finished in Germany

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED THE DRAW?

Like football matches throughout much of Europe, the draw will now take place behind closed doors with only key personnel present.

That means no club chiefs or legendary former players watching on, so don’t expect to see any grins – or grimaces – as the balls are drawn.

WHO CAN STILL QUALIFY?

Although the draw is on Friday, there are still a number of teams fighting to make it into the lucrative group stage.

On Thursday night there are 21 one-off ties taking place, with extra time and a penalty shoot-out in play if required. The six losing sides from the Champions League play-offs, taking place this week, will also be placed in the draw.

The full list of qualifiers still left to play is below, with Tottenham hosting Maccabi Haifa. Celtic face a trip to Sarajevo while Rangers entertain Galatasaray.

EUROPA LEAGUE PLAY-OFFS

Young Boys (SUI) vs Tirana (ALB)

GNK Dinamo (CRO) vs Flora Tallinn (EST)

CFR Cluj (ROU) vs KuPS (FIN)

Ararat-Armenia (ARM) vs Crvena zvezda (SRB)

Dynamo Brest (BLR) vs Ludogorets (BUL)

Sarajevo (BIH) vs Celtic (SCO)

Legia (POL) vs Qarabag (AZE)

Dundalk (IRL) vs KI (FRO)

Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) vs Viktoria Plzen (CZE)

Rosenborg (NOR) vs PSV Eindhoven (NED)

AEK Athens (GRE) vs Wolfsburg (GER)

Basel (SUI) vs CSKA Sofia (BUL)

Sporting CP (POR) vs LASK (AUT)

Charleroi (BEL) vs Lech (POL)

Rio Ave (POR) vs AC Milan (ITA)

Copenhagen (DEN) vs Rijeka (CRO)

Malmo (SWE) vs Granada (ESP)

Tottenham (ENG) vs Maccabi Haifa (ISR)

Slovan Liberec (CZE) vs APOEL (CYP)

Standard Liege (BEL) vs Fehervar (HUN)

Rangers (SCO) vs Galatasaray (TUR)

WHO’S ALREADY IN?

Pot One: Arsenal, Roma, Napoli, Benfica, Bayer Leverkusen, Villarreal, CSKA Moscow 

Pot One or Two: Braga, Sparta Prague

Pot One, Two or Three: Rapid Vienna, Leicester City

Pot Two or Three: Real Sociedad, AZ

Pot Two, Three or Four: Feyenoord, Hoffenheim

Pot Three or Four: Zorya Luhansk, Lille, Nice, Antwerp

Pot Four: Sivasspor, Wolfsberger 

Arsenal qualified for the Europa League after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final last month

HOW WILL IT WORK?

Ahead of the draw the 48 teams set to compete in the tournament will be divided into four seeding pots, each determined by their coefficient rankings. 

Pot One consists of some of the strongest sides in the competition, like Arsenal, Roma and Napoli.

Twelve groups will be formed, each containing one team from the four seeding tiers.

No team can be drawn against another from the same country.

HOW WILL COVID-19 AFFECT TEAMS?

The deadline for completing group matches in the Champions League and Europa League has been extended to the end of January as UEFA try to Covid-proof both competitions.

Clubs have been told that — as an ‘absolute last resort’ — they can play fixtures up to January 28, well beyond the usual December finishing point.

Matches may be played at neutral venues, should Government rules prevent one of the sides travelling.

If all group matches cannot be completed by January 28, UEFA’s executive committee will decide which clubs qualify for the Champions League round of 16 and the Europa League round of 32.

Some countries hold exemptions allowing for visits from elite athletes, but others do not. 

Should the visiting club be banned from travelling to their opponents’ country, it would fall on their hosts to come up with an alternative venue.

Tottenham will confirm their place in the tournament if they beat Maccabi Haifa this week

The home club would have to pick up the costs of the switch. If they cannot find a different venue and fail to fulfil the match, they will automatically be deemed to have lost the game 3-0. 

If the visiting club is barred from travelling by its own government, the home club will be asked to find a new venue. 

If they fail to do so, UEFA will step in and decide where the game will be played.

Any club refusing to play will be deemed to have forfeited the match, again by a score of 3-0.

WHEN WILL THE COMPETITION KICK-OFF? 

Group stage 

Matchday 1: October 22

Matchday 2: October 29

Matchday 3: November 5

Matchday 4: November 26

Matchday 5: December 3

Matchday 6: December 10

Round of 32

First legs: February 18, 2021

Second legs: February 25  

Round of 16

First legs: March 11

Second legs: March 18 

Quarter-finals

First legs: April 8

Second legs: April 15  

Semi-finals

First legs: April 29

Second legs: May 6 

Final 

May 26, Gdansk Stadium, Poland




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