Manchester United are breaking new ground, José Mourinho is meeting an old adversary and Arsenal welcome a surprise package; get in the mood for Matchday 3.
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Manchester United will recognise a familiar face as they head to Cyprus, and José Mourinho will be taking his own trip down memory lane with Roma, while Arsenal have awkward opponents on UEFA Europa League Matchday 3.
In this piece presented by Enterprise, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the third set of fixtures.
Thursday 6 October
Group A: Zürich vs PSV Eindhoven (18:45), Arsenal vs Bodø/Glimt (21:00)
Group B: Rennes vs Dynamo Kyiv (21:00), Fenerbahçe vs AEK Larnaca (21:00)
Group C: HJK Helsinki vs Ludogorets (18:45), Roma vs Real Betis (21:00)
Group D: Malmö vs Union Berlin (18:45), Braga vs St Gilloise (21:00)
Group E: Sheriff vs Real Sociedad (18:45), Omonoia vs Man United (18:45)
Group F: Sturm Graz vs Lazio (18:45), Midtjylland vs Feyenoord (21:00)
Group G: Freiburg vs Nantes (21:00), Olympiacos vs Qarabağ (21:00)
Group H: Crvena zvezda vs Ferencváros (18:45), Monaco vs Trabzonspor (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 Champions League groups. The Europa League third-place sides switch to the UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs.
What to look out for
United to break new ground in Cyprus
Having played their maiden game in Moldova on Matchday 2, Manchester United are set for another new experience as they come to Cyprus for the first time for a competitive game, Omonoia their hosts in Nicosia. However, if the circumstances are new, at least one face will be familiar. Omonoia are coached by one-time Manchester City man Neil Lennon, who faced United many times with Celtic and Leicester.
"British football is so big out here," he said after the Europa League draw. "You could sell out [our stadium] three times over I'd imagine." Lennon warned United that they can expect a lot of noise from home fans, but in Cristiano Ronaldo, they have a player who is well used to silencing Cypriot supporters. In his four games against Omonoia's local rivals APOEL with Real Madrid, he scored six times.
Old rivals to come together in Rome
More big guns will be firing as Roma welcome Real Betis, both sides having made positive starts in their respective domestic leagues. The results of their back-to-back meetings will likely have a major bearing on the outcome of Group C, but expect much of the pre-match talk to focus on the supposed rivalry between their respective coaches, Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini.
Mourinho replaced the Chilean as Real Madrid boss in 2010, and the two famously squared up to each other in England from 2013–15, when The Special One's Chelsea and Pellegrini's Manchester City were title rivals – City won the 2013/14 Premier League and Chelsea the 2014/15 edition. Talk of personal animosity between the coaches has been rather overstated (they seemed friendly enough when they met in a pre-season friendly in 2021), but will add a little more spice to this latest encounter.
North London beckons for Bodø/Glimt
Bodø/Glimt had some thrilling adventures in the Europa Conference League last season (not least, trouncing Mourinho's Roma side 6-1 in Norway), and they are up for another escapade as they come to Arsenal. Their first ever competitive game against an English side is a big moment, perhaps, but Kjetil Knutsen's side have shown no fear so far, holding PSV in Eindhoven before defeating Zürich last time out.
Knutsen's name is routinely linked to most vacant posts at big English clubs, and he elegantly batted off recent speculation that he was set to replace Chelsea-bound Graham Potter at Brighton by saying: "I stand with my head in a pressure cooker, and things that are outside Bodø/Glimt I am completely uninterested in." Arsenal fans, meanwhile, may wish to look out for Bodø/Glimt's danger men: striker Amahl Pellegrino and winger Ola Solbakken, who is being widely-tipped to head for Serie A in the winter.
When are the remaining Europa League group stage games?
Matchday 4: 13 October 2022
Matchday 5: 27 October 2022
Matchday 6: 3 November 2022
• All ties are reversed on Matchday 4, so expect plenty of unresolved business from this week's games to be settled on 13 October.
• Feyenoord's Santiago Giménez moved to the top of the Europa League goalscorers' rankings after hitting his third of the group stage on Matchday 2. Another Feyenoord player, Cyriel Dessers (now at Cremonese) was Europa Conference League top scorer as the Rotterdam side reached the final. Is that a good omen?
• Ferencváros are ones to track after kicking off with two wins. The only Hungarian side involved in any of the major men's club competition group stages, the Budapest outfit could play in the final in their home city.
Where is the 2023 UEFA Europa League final being played?
The 2022/23 Europa League season will conclude at Budapest's Puskás Aréna on 31 May 2023.
Officially opened in 2019, the 65,000+ capacity ground stands on the site of the old Hungarian national team stadium, which was also named in honour of former Honvéd and Real Madrid forward Ferenc Puskás. The venue is located in the Zugló district of the Hungarian capital.