Today marks the second day of this year’s edition of the UEFA Europa League. No one can be ruled out of the competition yet, but it’s now or never for teams that lost their first matches. Here’s a rundown of each group and where the teams stand:
Molde FK jumped to an early lead after a 3-1 away win over Fenerbahce. In the other Group A match, Ajax snatched a point from Celtic to tie late on at the Amsterdam Arena.
Ajax travel to Norway to face Molde in the first match in Europe between the two sides. Ajax are more experienced in UEFA competition, having completed 349 previous matches, whereas this is Molde’s second ever appearance in the UEL.
Celtic will welcome Fenerbahce to Scotland, marking the first time these clubs have played each other Europe as well. Turkish sides often perform poorly in Glasgowa��in four matches, teams have not scored a single goal.
FC Sion scored a 82ndA�minute winner at home to Rubin Kazan two weeks ago. Their Group B counterparts, Bordeaux and Liverpool, played to a draw in France.
Bordeaux travels to Russia today to square off against Rubin. The two teams have not met in European competition before. Bordeaux has a solid record against Russian opposition in Europe, winning five of six matches. On the other hand, Kazan have only lost one of their last 11 matches in the UEL, that being to Real Betis in 2014.
Elsewhere in Group B, Liverpool host current leaders, Sion. In a twist to the current theme, these two sides have played each other previously in Europe. The Merseysiders triumphed over the Swiss club in the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup 19 years ago. Liverpool have won six of 12 matches against Swiss opposition, whereas Sion have not won away from home in European competition since 1998.
German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund were victorious over FC Krasnodar after Joo-Ho Park scored the 90th minute winner to send the yellow wall crazy. In the other match, Gabala and PAOK only managed a 0-0 draw.
Dortmund travels to Greece to face PAOK in their first match in Europe. They’ve registered a win and a loss to Greek opposition in UEFA competition previously. PAOK will try to ensure the Germans don’t impose themselves as they’ve not conceded in the UEL this season.
The other match sees Krasnodar take on Gabala at home. This is the first match between the two sides, and Azeri teams have not scored against Russian teams in Europe. Gabala are making their first appearance in the main stages of any UEFA competition.
Group D is the first to have two determined winners and losers. Napoli destroyed Belgian side Club Brugge 5-0 at the San Paolo. Midtjylland won 1-0 at home over visitors Legia Warszawa.
Napoli will make a trip to Poland today to take on Legia. The Italians last faced a Polish side in European competition almost 40 years ago when they beat Slask Wroclaw. Legia have not fared well against Italian sides, losing seven of their 14 matches against them. Their two wins over Italian teams have come in Poland, however, which could be something of a silver lining.
Midtjylland will also play away from home today as they face off against Brugge. They’ve played two and lost both to Belgian competition previously in Europe. On the other hand, Brugge have fared well in their past exploits against Danish competition, winning seven of 13 matches.
La Liga leaders Villareal were stunned by Rapid Wien 2-1 after two goals in three minutes from the Austrians. Elsewhere, Viktoria Plzen kept a clean sheet as they beat Dinamo Minsk 2-0.
Villareal invite Plzen to El Madrigal in the first UEFA match between the two. They’ll want to take their domestic form to Europe and end the day with three points and sight of the group lead. They have never lost to Czech sides in Europe, a run they hope continues. Plzen have lost their only two matches in Spain and have not scored a goal, a stat Villareal must enjoy.
Wien travel to Minsk in their first match against Bulgarian opposition. Having said that, the two sides are playing each other for the first time. Minsk have won two and not conceded in two home matches against Austrian competition.
Marseille took all three points, beating FC Groningen in their previous match by a score of 3-0. SC Braga also managed a win over their opponent, Czech side Liberec, thanks to a second-half strike from Rafa Silva.
Marseille host Liberec at the Stade Velodrome. Usually a home match is good for a team, but Marseille have failed to win in their last five European matches at home. Liberec have won two of four matches against French sides but have not won on the road. This is the first meeting in European competition between the sides.
Groningen travel to Portugal to take on Braga. Although they lost their only European match in Portugal, Braga have failed to win at home in UEFA competition since prevailing over Birmingham City.
Group G was the only group where all four teams drew their opening match. Rosenborg and Saint-Etienne drew 2-2 while Dnipro and Lazio drew 1-1.
Rosenborg will play last season’s runners-up, Dnipro. The Ukrainians have never faced any Norwegian teams in UEFA competition. Rosenborg have advanced all the way from the first qualification round and will hope to keep that run going with a win here. However, they have fared horrendously against Ukrainian sides in Europe and have never won in Ukraine.
In the other match, Saint-Etienne visit Rome to take on Lazio. They, much like many of the other teams in this competition, have never played each other in Europe. Against French opposition, Lazio have posted five wins and six losses in 14 matches. Saint-Etienne will be looking a win and the boost to get through the Europa League group stages for the first time.
Both away teams in Group H won on matchday one. Lokomotiv Moscow took it to Sporting Portugal, winning 3-1, and Besiktas prevailed 1-0 over Skenderbeu.
Lokomotiv will welcome the Albanians to Russia for the first time. Their last continental home match ended in a 4-1 defeat, so they’ll be looking to reverse their fortunes. Skenderbeu are in the group stages of a UEFA competition for the first time and will look to shock the field.
In the other match, Sporting travel across the continent to face Besiktas. They’ve never won nor lost in Turkey, drawing twice. However, Besiktas have never beaten Portuguese opposition at home, losing three times.
Basel took out last year’s semifinalists Fiorentina 2-1 in Florence, scoring twice after the home side went down to 10 men. In the other match, Belenenses and Lech Poznan stumped each other and finished in a scoreless draw.
Basel welcome Lech Poznan to St. Jakub’s Park, a ground that has hosted many famous European nights. They have already faced each other twice this season, squaring off in Champions League qualification. The Swiss side won on both occasions and have won three of four against Polish opponents. Lech have one win and one draw against Swiss opposition in Europe.
Fiorentina travel to Portugal to face Belenenses in what will be the first encounter against an Italian side for the Portuguese team. They have not lost in Europe this season. Fiorentina will be looking to bounce back after their loss two weeks ago. They haven’t lost in their last three matches in Portugal.
Tottenham Hotspur secured a 3-1 victory over FK Qarabag despite going down early. AS Monaco scored a late equalizer to force a draw against RSC Anderlecht.
Spurs travel to the principality to take on Monaco. They’ve never faced off in an official match, but Monaco did defeat the English side in a friendly two years ago. Monaco have won half of their 12 matches against English opposition, while Tottenham have not won any of their three matches in France.
Anderlecht will travel to Azerbaijan to take on Qarabag. They lost their only fixture in Azerbaijan while Qarabag won their only home match against a Belgian side. This is the first encounter between the two sides.
Early leaders FC Schalke traveled to Cyprus and defeated APOEL Nicosia 3-0 two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Asteras Tripolis and Sparta Praha played to a 1-1 stalemate.
Schalke will host Asteras in the first match between the sides. They’ve won one of their three home matches against Greek opposition. The Greeks have not won any of their last five continental matches.
APOEL travels to the Czech Republic to face off against Sparta in a match that should favor the Czechs. They have played each other in the past with Sparta coming away the victors on aggregate 11 years ago. However, they’ve won their other matches against Czech opposition. Furthermore, the Cypriot side have won only one of seven matches this season.
Athletic Bilbao and Partizan Belgrade came away victorious in the first round of fixtures, with the former topping Augsburg 3-1 and the latter holding off AZ Alkmaar 3-2.
Bilbao need to forget their domestic troubles and focus on the match against AZ. Their continental form is just as dismal as their domestic form as they’ve won one match out of their last seven. AZ have fared well against Spanish opposition, winning four of nine while losing none at home.
Augsburg will host Partizan in the first match between the two sides, and the Germans’ second ever in UEFA competition. Partizan have lost all seven matches played in Germany, while this will be Augsburg’s first European match at home. Perhaps they can make it eight out of eight for German sides at home.
It’s sure to be another intriguing Europa League Thursday, with these four matches in particular:
AS Monaco vs. Tottenham Hotspur (1:00 PM ET)
Lazio vs. Saint-Etienne (1:00 PM ET)
Besiktas vs. Sporting Portugal (1:00 PM ET)
Celtic vs. Fenerbahce (3:05 ET)
All facts can be attributed to UEFA.com unless otherwise noted.