Gear up for the UEFA Europa League
Friday, 23 October 2020
With 24 games every matchweek, prepare for another frenzied Thursday night.
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Matchday 1 of the UEFA Europa League featured 73 goals, two hat-tricks, a 6-2, a 5-3 and perhaps the ultimate long-range finish from Rangers' Kemar Roofe.
With 2,160 minutes of football condensed into every matchnight, get an idea of what is to come when the action resumes.
Group A: Roma vs CSKA Sofia (21:00 CET), CFR Cluj vs Young Boys (21:00 CET)
Group B: Arsenal vs Dundalk (21:00 CET), Molde vs Rapid Wien (21:00 CET)
Group C: Slavia Praha vs Leverkusen (21:00 CET), Nice vs Hapoel Beer-Sheva (21:00 CET)
Group D: Benfica vs Standard Liège (21:00 CET), Rangers vs Lech Poznań (21:00 CET)
Group E: Omonoia vs PSV Eindhoven (21:00 CET), Granada vs PAOK (21:00 CET)
Group F: Real Sociedad vs Napoli (21:00 CET), AZ Alkmaar vs Rijeka (21:00 CET)
Group G: AEK Athens vs Leicester (18:55 CET), Zorya Luhansk vs Braga (18:55 CET)
Group H: AC Milan vs Sparta Praha (18:55 CET), LOSC Lille vs Celtic (18:55 CET)
Group I: Qarabağ vs Villarreal (18:55 CET), Sivasspor vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv (18:55 CET)
Group J: LASK vs Ludogorets (18:55 CET), Royal Antwerp vs Tottenham (18:55 CET)
Group K: CSKA Moskva vs Dinamo Zagreb (18:55 CET), Feyenoord vs Wolfsberg (18:55 CET)
Group L: Gent vs Hoffenheim (18:55 CET), Crvena zvezda vs Slovan Liberec (18:55 CET)
MATCH OF THE WEEK: Real Sociedad vs Napoli
Two famous European names come together for the first time in San Sebastian, a tie to stir up fond memories for some of the teams' established stars. Real Sociedad's David Silva figured in two wins against Napoli in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League for Manchester City, while Napoli's Fernando Llorente scored three goals in nine Liga games against La Real when playing for Basque rivals Athletic Club.
Real Sociedad coach Imanol Alguacil described Napoli as "a strong side with good players who I like”, but Partenopei boss Gennaro Gattuso may feel he has no time for admiring glances following his team's 1-0 loss at home to AZ Alkmaar first time out. "We suffered a huge blow on Matchday 1," he said. "We must avoid making our Europa League path even more complicated."
Worth pointing out
• Zlatan Ibrahimović has another chance to become the second-oldest scorer in UEFA Europa League history as his side welcome Sparta (Molde's Daniel Hestad holds the record, scoring against Celtic on 5 November 2015 aged 40 years and 98 days). If, as in most other matters, the 39-year-old refuses to settle for second best, he will need to score in next season's knockout phase to break the record; he will be 40 years and 98 days old on 9 January 2022.
• Having missed his club's opening game against LASK, Harry Kane is just two goals shy of his 200th competitive goal for Tottenham; the most efficient goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history could reach that target at Royal Antwerp. Kane's team-mate Toby Alderweireld was born in Antwerp, and was once on the books of The Great Old's rivals Germinal Beerschot. A petition to erect a statue of the defender in Ekeren, the suburb where he grew up, gathered 800 signatures, though Alderweireld said: "Of all the people who have [signed], I think about 80% are my friends.”
• Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored Arsenal's winner at Rapid Wien on Matchday 1 and will hope more goals are to come in his 20th UEFA Europa League match for the Gunners as they welcome Dundalk. The Irish champions' Italian coach Filippo Giovagnoli said: "Arsenal have better players, better coaches and better everything than us, but this is the challenge. We need to play with a lot of heart, run a lot and be a little crazy and brave, but we’re going to try."
• Expect to read the name 'Darwin Núñez' a lot in weeks to come; reportedly Benfica's most expensive signing ever, the 21-year-old Uruguayan came to Lisbon from Spanish side Almería this summer, and hit a hat-trick on his UEFA Europa League debut at Lech Poznań. "We got it right," said coach Jorge Jesus at full time. "He will be a top world player. Unfortunately I might lose him in the near future." For now, the new Edinson Cavani belongs to the Europa League.
• Get the latest fixtures, standings and statistics here.