Happiness and heartbreak will both be guaranteed when the UEFA Europa League group stage comes to a close on Wednesday and Thursday with the last nine places in the round of 32 up for grabs.
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Happiness and heartbreak will both be guaranteed as the UEFA Europa League group stage comes to a close with the last nine places in the round of 32 up for grabs.
Fifteen clubs have already made it through to the knockout stage, led by seven who are certain of a ticket to the draw as group winners: SL Benfica, Sporting Clube de Portugal, Galatasaray AŞ, Fenerbahçe SK, FC Salzburg, FC Shakhtar Donetsk and PSV Eindhoven. The other eight with nothing to fear from Matchday 6 on Wednesday and Thursday are Werder Bremen, Villarreal CF, Everton, Hamburger SV, AFC Ajax, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, AS Roma and Athletic Club. Eight more sides will join the field from the UEFA Champions League having finished third in their sections: Juventus, Liverpool FC, Olympique de Marseille, Club Atlético de Madrid, VfL Wolfsburg, FC Rubin Kazan, FC Unirea Urziceni and R. Standard de Liège, completing a formidable 32 for the competition's inaugural season.
Among the highlights of the week will be the four winner-takes-all matches: FC Basel 1893's home game with Fulham FC, Club Brugge KV's home tie against Toulouse FC and FC København's trip to AC Sparta Praha, all on Wednesday, and Valencia CF's Thursday trip to Genoa CFC. Former UEFA Champions League contenders such as RSC Anderlecht, LOSC Lille Métropole and Panathinaikos FC will also be looking to progress in their final group outings.
The draws for the round of 32 and round of 16 will be held in Nyon on Friday, starting at 13.00CET. Clubs from the same association cannot be pitted against each other in the round of 32. The 12 UEFA Europa League group winners and the four best third-ranked teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage will be drawn against the 12 UEFA Europa League group runners-up and the remaining third-ranked teams from the UEFA Champions League. Group winners and the top four UEFA Champions League performers play the return leg at home. Winners and runners-up from the same group cannot meet.