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What to look out for on UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 5

Fiorentina welcome İstanbul Başakşehir in a clash of the Group A titans and there is unfinished business as the newly-crowned Norwegian champions meet Sweden's only continental contenders.

Molde's Kristian Eriksen, Fiorentina's Luka Jović and West Ham's Declan Rice
Molde's Kristian Eriksen, Fiorentina's Luka Jović and West Ham's Declan Rice

Fiorentina face a table-topping encounter with İstanbul Başakşehir on UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 5, on the same night as a clash of two Nordic giants.

In this piece presented by Enterprise, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the fixtures.

How qualifying for the knockouts works

The eight group winners automatically go through to the last 16. Additional knockout round play-offs between the eight group runners-up and the third-ranked teams from the UEFA Europa League groups will then be played before the round of 16.

Thursday 27 October
Group A: Fiorentina vs İstanbul Başakşehir, Hearts vs RFS
Group B: Anderlecht vs FCSB, West Ham vs Silkeborg
Group C: Villarreal vs Hapoel Beer-Sheva, Austria Wien vs Lech
Group D: Slovácko vs Köln, Nice vs Partizan
Group E: Vaduz vs AZ Alkmaar, Dnipro-1 vs Apollon Limassol
Group F: Molde vs Djurgården, Shamrock Rovers vs Gent
Group G: Ballkani vs Slavia Praha, Sivasspor vs CFR Cluj
Group H: Basel vs Žalgiris, Slovan Bratislava vs Pyunik

What to look out for

Fiorentina eager to banish lingering doubt
"You cannot draw any conclusions from one match," said Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Italiano after a 5-1 win at home against Hearts on Matchday 4. "We have to be consistent." The Viola have been inconsistent all season, and took only one point from their opening two Group A games, but can eliminate any lingering doubt over their European future as they welcome top-ranked İstanbul Başakşehir.

Fiorentina ended the sides' Matchday 2 meeting with ten men, losing 3-0, but while Emre Belözoğlu's side have had some great results this season, they are prone to occasional lapses of their own; they went unbeaten in their first 16 matches this season before losing 2-0 at home to struggling Sivasspor the weekend after they dropped two Group A points in a 0-0 draw at RFS in Riga.

Scandinavian giants vying for top spot
Molde may feel they have unfinished business as the Norwegian champions welcome Djurgården, their opponents from neighbouring Sweden having beaten them 3-2 on Matchday 2, a red card and a late winner stifling Erling Moe's side. "We can congratulate Djurgården and Sweden on a rare big victory against Norway," the coach joked after the game.

Revenge could be doubly sweet for Molde this week. In the chase for the Swedish title, Djurgården are already sure of a knockout round place, but Molde could wrest top spot in Group F away from them. The Swedish side may have achieved their primary aim, but they may yet find something extra in the tank for Molde. As co-coach Thomas Lagerlöf put it: "Regardless of what happens in a match, we never give up."

West Ham welcome top-scoring Silkeborg
The Hammers are certain of a place in the knockout phase of the Europa Conference League after winning their first four games, but top spot in the section and a guaranteed round of 16 place are not quite nailed down for David Moyes' side. Now second in Group B, Silkeborg will look to prolong that uncertainty as they come to London, fresh from back-to-back 5-0 wins against FCSB.

Kent Nielsen's side are the joint top scorers in the group stage alongside Villarreal with 12 goals, and scored twice against West Ham in a 3-2 home loss on Matchday 2. Can they cause even bigger problems in England? "The game was close, even though we lost to West Ham," Nielsen said as he reflected on that match. "We'll see [over the final matchdays] if we can do enough to qualify."

What games are coming up on Matchday 6?

Group A: RFS vs Fiorentina (16:30), İstanbul Başakşehir vs Hearts (16:30)
Group B: FCSB vs West Ham (21:00), Silkeborg vs Anderlecht (21:00)
Group C: Lech vs Villarreal (21:00), Hapoel Beer-Sheva vs Austria Wien (21:00)
Group D: Partizan vs Slovácko (21:00), Köln vs Nice (21:00)
Group E: Apollon Limassol vs Vaduz (18:45), AZ Alkmaar vs Dnipro-1 (18:45)
Group F: Djurgården vs Shamrock Rovers (18:45), Gent vs Molde (18:45)
Group G: Slavia Praha vs Sivasspor (18:45), CFR Cluj vs Ballkani (18:45)
Group H: Žalgiris vs Slovan Bratislava (18:45), Pyunik vs Basel (18:45)

Highlights: Slavia Praha 4-1 LASK

Further ahead
• AZ Alkmaar top Group E ahead of Matchday 5, but their home game against second-ranked Dnipro-1 may be crucial in deciding which of the sides takes the direct route to the last 16. AZ beat the Ukrainian side 1-0 away on Matchday 1.

• Slavia's dream is to play in this season's final at their own stadium. Their Matchday 5 game at Ballkani looks winnable, but they must also beat Sivasspor in Prague on Matchday 6 to keep their adventure going into the spring.

Where is the 2023 UEFA Europa Conference League final being played?

The Eden Arena in Prague, Czechia, has been selected to host this season's Europa Conference League final on 7 June 2023.

The 2013 UEFA Super Cup took place at the Eden Arena, with Bayern defeating Chelsea 5-4 on penalties following a 2-2 draw over 120 minutes, and a showpiece game also went the distance two years later in the 2015 Under-21 EURO final, Sweden seeing off Portugal 4-3 on spot kicks.