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2019-20 UEFA Europa League Preview – (Match Day 1)

Europe’s second club competition – the UEFA Europa League kicks off several big European clubs in hunt for the European glory. Last season finalist, Arsenal will aim to go one step better this term and they are in company of Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers as the English contingent for the competition. Previous winners; Sevilla, FC Porto as well as last season semi finalist Eintracht Frankfurt are some of the big names vying for glory in the competition. The journey to Stadion Energa Gdańsk in Gdańsk, Poland begins on Thursday 19 September. The contenders will have their sight set on the final slated for 27 May 2020.

Here is our preview of some matches across the 12 groups for Match Day 1.

Group A;

QARABAG v SEVILLA – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 17.55HRS
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Azerbaijan champions Qarabag host five-time winners Sevilla in Baku in the first ever meeting between both sides in European competition. Atlılar face an uphill task against one of the competition’s favorite; they struggled to scale through the play-offs but did eventually booked their place in the group stage. Sevilla have started the new season on a good note under new coach Julen Lopetegui. They are currently leading the Spanish top division and will travel to Baku with confidence in securing three points.

VERDICT – Sevilla are the better team on paper and can be considered favorites. However, Qarabag were able to prevent Spanish opposition – Atletico Madrid from winning in the two group matches in 2017-18 Champions League group stage therefore they cannot be underestimated. Sevilla do not have an excellent away record as well so we do not think there would be loads of goals in Baku. Under 3.5 goals.

Group D;

PSV EINDHOVEN v SPORTING CP – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 17.55HRS
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Eredivisie runners-up PSV entertain Portuguese giants Sporting in the opening game of Group D at the Phillips Stadion. PSV crashed out during the Champions League qualifiers but the Dutch team cannot be written off just yet. The                 Boeren crushed Vitesse five nil over the weekend in the league to prepare for this game. On the other hand, the Portuguese club have just replaced their coach with Leonel Pontes taking over at the beginning of this month. The Portuguese tactician will be taking charge of his second game against PSV as he tries to get on board with his new job. What can we expect in Eindhoven? 

VERDICT – Both teams are likely to play offensive football which is the style they adopt for games. PSV have an average of 2.8 goals in their last five home games while Sporting have scored at least a goal in their last four away matches. We believe there would be goals from both teams.

Group E;

RENNES v CELTIC – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 17.55HRS
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After the strong start Rennes made to the new Ligue 1 season, they are now without a victory in the last two; losing to OGC Nice at home before the international break and managing a draw away at newly promoted Brest after the break. Celtic were knocked out in the Champions League qualifiers but made light work of AIK Fotbol to secure their place in the Europa League group stage. Neil Lennon’s team have made a perfect start to the new Scottish Premier League season with five victories in five games. They will travel to West of France with confidence of giving their host a tough challenge in front of their fans.  Julien Stéphan’s troop have seen off more illustrious opponent at home in this competition including last season finalist – Arsenal therefore we are promised a proper duel at Roahzon Park.

VERDICT – Both teams met in the 2011/12 group stage. Celtic drew in France and beat Les Rennais in Glasgow. The hosts have scored in each of their last five home games while Celtic have done same on the road. Considering the recent head-to-head, we believe both teams will score and this might just be another draw.

Group F;

EINTRACHT FRANKFURT v ARSENAL – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 17.55HRS
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The opening night in Group F brings together last season’s semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt and runners-up Arsenal. Both teams were foiled by eventual winners – Chelsea last season. Eintracht Frankfurt required play-offs to make it to this stage having finished seventh in the Bundesliga last season. Frankfurt’s 14-match UEFA Europa League adventure in 2018/19 brought memorable knockout phase wins over three teams that had crossed over from the UEFA Champions League – Shakhtar Donetsk, Internazionale and Benfica. Arsenal finished fifth and did not require all play-off to get here. The Gunners are consistent European campaigners though the last three seasons has now seen them compete in this competition.

VERDICT – This is first meeting between these two clubs in Europe. Both teams have defensive issues; Frankfurt have only managed one clean sheet in their last six games and the visitors haven’t managed one in their last four matches. There would be fireworks at both ends of the pitch in a game either sides can win. We expect both teams to score.  

Group G;

FC PORTO v YOUNG BOYS – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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Porto and Young Boys open Group G having both lost out in Champions League qualifiers. The Portuguese club will need a strong start in the competition to make up for their shock exit in the Champions League. Swiss champions, Young Boys were unable to replicate last season Champions League run to the group stage, they lost on away goals to Serbian champions Crvena Zvezda. On home soil, Sergio Conceicao’s team is dangerous, and they will be keen to send a huge message to the rest of the teams in Group G.

VERDICT – These two teams are locking horns for the first time in two decades. The Portuguese club is on a four-match winning run, and have scored 12 goals in those games. Young Boys have a poor record away from home in European competition; they are equally less inferior to their host. On the strength of both teams, Porto are a good bet for a home win.

Group J;

AS ROMA v ISTANBUL BASAKSEHIR – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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AS Roma kick off their Europa League campaign with a home game against Turkish Super Lig runners up. Basaksehir are competing in the Europa League for the second time after their first adventure two seasons ago. They would hope to perform better than last time when they failed to make it beyond the group stage. Their host have more continental experience, reached the knockout phase of the Champions League in the last two seasons. Paulo Fonseca’s team has made an unbeaten start to the new season, got their first victory of the season over weekend in resounding fashion. The Portuguese coach will hope his team take momentum from the weekend into Thursday night.

VERDICT – This is the Turkish club’s first UEFA encounter against an Italian side; Roma have won three and drawn one of the four matches in which they have hosted Turkish opposition. Basaksehir have made a slow start to the new campaign but are capable of winning on the road. Winning at the Olimpico is a tough ask for the visitors but they should get a goal against an ultra-attacking Fonseca team. Over 2.5 goals expected

Group L;

MANCHESTER UNITED v ASTANA – THUR. 19 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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2017 Europa League winners make a return to the competition with a home game against champions of Kazakhstan. Manchester United are favorites in the group and need a strong start to send a solid message to other rivals. Astana are champions of their league but are minnows in this fixture and against their illustrious opponent at the Theatre of Dreams. Manchester United have not made the boisterous start to the season expected by their fans but can launch the season with an emphatic performance and victory.  

VERDICT – These teams have not faced each other before. It is Manchester United’s first UEFA encounter against an opposition from Kazakhstan and also Astana’s first against a club from England. The home team has scored 10 goals from the previous five home games while The Blue and Yellows have won only four of the last ten away games. United have not impressed yet but have enough quality to win in front of their fans.

This wraps us our Match day 1 Focus; predict and win big in UEFA’s second premier club competition by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in all 24 matches for Match Day 1. The UEFA Europa League preview returns in a fortnight.

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