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What to look out for on UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 6

There are five knockout places up for grabs as the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage comes to its conclusion, with Fenerbahçe, Dinamo Zagreb and Ferencváros among the sides yet to seal their place.

Conference League Ones to Watch: Midfielders

Fenerbahçe, Dinamo Zagreb and Ferencváros all have work to do heading into the final UEFA Europa Conference League group games as they bid for three of the five knockout places still up for grabs.

In this piece presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we pick out some key talking points as the group stage reaches a climax. Remember: Every mission matters.

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Thursday 14 December

Group A: Slovan Bratislava vs Olimpija Ljubljana (21:00), LOSC Lille vs KÍ Klaksvík (21:00)
Group B
: Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs Gent (21:00), Zorya Luhansk vs Breidablik (21:00)
Group C
: Viktoria Plzeň vs Astana (21:00), Dinamo Zagreb vs Ballkani (21:00)
Group D
: Club Brugge vs Bodø/Glimt (21:00), Lugano vs Beşiktaş (21:00)
Group E
: Legia Warszawa vs AZ Alkmaar (18:45), Zrinjski vs Aston Villa (18:45)
Group F
: Genk vs Čukarički (18:45), Ferencváros vs Fiorentina (18:45)
Group G
: PAOK vs HJK Helsinki (18:45), Aberdeen vs Frankfurt (18:45)
Group H
: Ludogorets vs Nordsjælland (18:45), Fenerbahçe vs Spartak Trnava (18:45)

How qualifying for the knockouts works

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

What to look out for

Can Fener get their groove back?
Fenerbahçe looked unstoppable at the start of the season, racking up an incredible 19 successive wins in all competitions before suddenly grinding to a halt. A solitary victory in October meant their lead in Türkiye evaporated and leaves them with work to do to reach the knockout stages, with Matchday 5's 6-1 loss at Nordsjælland the nadir.

"We apologise to all the fans," coach İsmail Kartal said after the bruising trip to Denmark. "Our fans should not forget this. Fenerbahçe will do what they have to at home to Spartak Trnava and get out of the group." Only a win guarantees progress, though a draw may be enough if Ludogorets versus Nordsjælland finishes all square.

Highlights: Spartak Trnava 1-2 Fenerbahçe

Ferencváros determined to make point
Ferencváros needed a 98th-minute winner to scrape three points against Čukarički last time out, meaning they go into their final fixture against already-qualified Fiorentina knowing that a draw will secure passage to the knockouts.

The teams drew 2-2 in Florence on Matchday 1, with Vincenzo Italiano crediting counterpart Dejan Stanković for "bringing enthusiasm and ideas" to the Hungarian side. The Ferencváros boss may have to bring more to stave off the possibility of Genk, who travel to Čukarički, pipping them at the post.

Highlights: Fiorentina 2-2 Ferencváros

Dinamo wary of Ballkani repeat
Many tipped Group C to be relatively straightforward for Viktoria Plzeň and Dinamo Zagreb, but it hasn't turned out that way. The Czech side are through as group winners after five wins out of five, but a tally of six goals scored says a lot about how easy that has been.

Dinamo have found it even harder. Back-to-back defeats by Plzeň followed a shock 2-0 loss at Ballkani, their opponents in Zagreb for Matchday 6. Lose and the Kosovan side will leapfrog them, though Astana would also enter the frame if they beat Plzeň – you wouldn't bet against it.

Highlights: Ballkani 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb

What happens next?

SPORTSFILE

Knockout round play-off draw: 18 December 2023
Knockout round play-offs: 15 and 22 February 2024
Round of 16 draw: 23 February 2024
Round of 16: 7 and 14 March 2024
Quarter-final & semi-final draws: 15 March 2024
Quarter-finals: 11 and 18 April 2024
Semi-finals: 2 and 9 May 2024
Final: 29 May 2024 (Athens, Greece)