UEFA Europa Conference League: What to look out for this week
Monday, 18 October 2021
The inaugural group stage is in full swing; here's a taste of what's coming up next.
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The first edition of the UEFA Europa Conference League enters its third matchweek with 32 teams aiming for the final in Tirana.
UEFA.com picks out key battlegrounds for Matchday 3, presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Thursday 21 October
Group A: Alashkert vs LASK, HJK Helsinki vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Group B: Anorthosis Famagusta vs Flora Tallinn, Partizan vs Gent
Group C: Bodø/Glimt vs Roma, CSKA-Sofia vs Zorya Luhansk
Group D: Jablonec vs Randers, CFR Cluj vs AZ Alkmaar
Group E: Feyenoord vs Union Berlin, Maccabi Haifa vs Slavia Praha
Group F: Copenhagen vs PAOK, Slovan Bratislava vs Lincoln Red Imps
Group G: Mura vs Rennes, Vitesse vs Tottenham
Group H: Qarabağ vs Kairat Almaty, Basel vs Omonoia
What to look out for?
Roma heading north to meet 'Flash'
The Arctic Circle beckons for Group C superstars Roma. José Mourinho's side have won both of their opening games, scoring a competition-best eight goals, but may have a bit of a challenge in northern Europe with the 2020 Norwegian champions (from the town of Bodø; club name 'Glimt' translates as 'flash') emerging as their main rivals for top spot. The group stage debutants have taken four points so far, and coach Kjetil Knutsen is not cowering at the thought of facing a coach who has won European trophies with Porto, Inter and Manchester United. "He's a flesh and blood man like the rest of us," he said. "We can achieve the most incredible things." It should not be bitterly cold in Bodø (average October temperatures are around 6C), but Roma may find it a bit surreal: the club's fans are famous for brandishing giant yellow toothbrushes at matches. Expect bright smiles.
A six-pointer in Belgrade
It is a measure of how competitive the UEFA Europa Conference League has been so far that only four teams have gone into Matchday 3 with six points, and there will be at least one fewer perfect record after Partizan host Gent. The top two in Group B both won their opening fixtures and plenty is at stake when the Belgian side come to Belgrade for the second time in as many seasons having lost 2-1 to Crvena zvezda in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League group stage. "We are almost through to the next round," said Partizan defender Nemanja Miletić after his side's Matchday 2 win at Flora. "I hope we'll have packed stands for Gent game. Gent are competing with us for top spot." Expect a similar level of intrigue in Group F when Copenhagen – two games, two wins – welcome PAOK (four points so far).
Vitesse next for Spurs
After a relatively quiet spell in front of goal, Harry Kane came off the bench to score a 20-minute hat-trick in Tottenham's 5-1 win against Mura on Matchday 2. "I'm always confident of my abilities and I'm always there for the next chance," he told UEFA.com at full-time. Spurs will hope to pack their shooting boots as they face another tough test (like their 2-2 Matchday 1 game at Rennes) against Vitesse in Arnhem. The Dutch side's German coach Thomas Letsch came to London to watch Spurs lose 3-1 to Arsenal in the recent north London derby and returned to the Netherlands with some useful insight. "You can get a lot of information nowadays without watching a team in action, but we attach a lot of importance to live analysis," he said. "You get to see things clearly." How clearly? Wait and see.
• All this week's ties are reversed for Matchday 4 so expect that extra bit of tension in the air when the sides reconvene on 4 November.
• Having lifted the European Cup in 1970, and the UEFA Cup in 1974 and 2002, Feyenoord have already had their hands on the two most prestigious current trophies in European club football, and can become the first side to complete a clean sweep if they add the UEFA Europa Conference League to their set this season.
14/16 September: Matchday 1
30 September: Matchday 2
21 October: Matchday 3
4 November: Matchday 4
25 November: Matchday 5
9 December: Matchday 6
13 December: Knockout round play-off draw
17 & 24 February: Knockout round play-offs
25 February: Round of 16 draw
10 & 17 March: Round of 16
18 March: Quarter-final & semi-final draws
7 & 14 April: Quarter-finals
28 April & 5 May: Semi-finals
25 May: Final (National Arena, Tirana)