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UEFA Europa League: What to look out for on Matchday 2

The 16 Matchday 2 games take place on Thursday; get ready for action.

Olympiacos's Youssef El-Arabi, Fenerbahçe's Mesut Özil and Celtic's Joe Hart
Olympiacos's Youssef El-Arabi, Fenerbahçe's Mesut Özil and Celtic's Joe Hart Getty Images

The UEFA Europa League returns with 16 fixtures on Thursday 30 September.

UEFA.com picks out some sure-fire headline-makers for Matchday 2.

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Thursday 30 September
Group A: Sparta Praha vs Rangers, Lyon vs Brøndby
Group B: Real Sociedad vs Monaco, Sturm Graz vs PSV Eindhoven
Group C: Legia Warszawa vs Leicester, Napoli vs Spartak Moskva
Group D: Royal Antwerp vs Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahçe vs Olympiacos
Group E: Lazio vs Lokomotiv Moskva, Marseille vs Galatasaray
Group F: Ludogorets vs Crvena zvezda, Braga vs Midtjylland
Group G: Celtic vs Leverkusen, Ferencváros vs Real Betis
Group H: Genk vs Dinamo Zagreb, West Ham vs Rapid Wien

What to look out for?

Great Olympiacos Europa League goals
Great Olympiacos Europa League goals

Mediterranean titans meet in Istanbul
Regular rivals in basketball, two of the most popular clubs in the Mediterranean region meet for the first time in UEFA competition as Olympiacos visit Fenerbahçe. The Istanbul giants drew 1-1 at Eintracht in their opening Group D match, while Pedro Martins' Greek champions beat ten-man Royal Antwerp 2-1 in Piraeus. In 28 UEFA club competition meetings between the nations' sides, the Turkish teams are 11-9 up in terms of wins; Fenerbahçe have yet to lose at home to Greek opponents (W1 D2), while Olympiacos's record in Turkey is W2 L3, including a 1-0 success at Ístanbul Başakşehir in their most recent visit, in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

Old Firm sides on shaky ground
There was very little to celebrate in Glasgow after Matchday 1, after Rangers lost 2-0 at home to Lyon and Celtic went down 4-3 at Real Betis. Ange Postecoglu's Hoops have a tough home game against Leverkusen in store, while Rangers travel to Prague to take on Sparta – a side Celtic know only too well from the 2020/21 group stage. As Sparta midfielder David Pavelka remembered fondly: "We beat Celtic 4-1 twice last season." Sparta boss Pavel Vrba knows his side could deal Steven Gerrard's men a serious blow in the Czech Republic. "If we beat them we will have four points and they will have none. So, we have the chance to really put them in a lot of trouble."

Highlights: Spartak Moskva 0-1 Legia
Highlights: Spartak Moskva 0-1 Legia

Are Legia legit contenders?
Legia Warszawa left it till the closing seconds before scoring a winner at Spartak Moskva on Matchday 1, success in Russia leaving the Polish champions with plenty to play for as they take on the Group C big guns in successive games: first Leicester, then Napoli. After the draw, Legia boss Czesław Michniewicz was excited about facing both of those sides: "We will face my favourite coach, Leicester's Brendan Rodgers," he said, adding: "[Last year] I was at Napoli-Barcelona – I was sitting in the stadium dreaming about 'playing' there one day as coach. And the dream came true!"

Further ahead?

Highlights: Leicester 2-2 Napoli
Highlights: Leicester 2-2 Napoli

• Olivier Giroud (with 11 goals) was UEFA Europa League top scorer in 2018/19, while Bruno Fernandes took the honour with eight in 2019/20, and four players shared the prize with seven goals last season: Borja Mayoral, Gerard Moreno, Pizzi and Yusuf Yazıcı. Only two players scored more than once on Matchday 1: Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Juanmi of Real Betis. Who will score the first hat-trick of 2021/22?

• The 17th Premier League club to figure in the UEFA Europa League group stage, West Ham kicked off their campaign with a 2-0 success at Dinamo Zagreb and the Hammers are dreaming of a second major European trophy. They won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1965 and reached the final of the same competition in 1976. Do they have what it takes to make this season's decider in Seville?

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Key dates

Group stage
15/16 September: Matchday 1
30 September: Matchday 2
20/21 October: Matchday 3
4 November: Matchday 4
24/25 November: Matchday 5
9 December: Matchday 6

The Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán will host the final
The Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán will host the finalUEFA via Getty Images

Knockout stage
13 December: Knockout round play-offs 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
18 May: Final (Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Sevilla)

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