4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action | OneFootball

4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action | OneFootball

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OneFootball

Richard Buxton·14 December 2023

4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action

Article image:4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action

Thursday sees the conclusion of the Europa and Conference League group stage fixtures.

This is what to watch out for.


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Winner-take-all battles for top spot

Article image:4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action

Let it never be said that the competitions outside of the Champions League don’t deliver until the very last.

Top spot in all bar two of the Europa League’s seven groups is yet to be decided while four match-ups will be enticing winner-take-all affairs.

In the Conference League, too, there are six which hinge on a knife-edge with Fiorentina, Aston Villa and Lille among those bidding to consolidate top spot.

They may lack a similar level of prestige to the UCL but there is no shortage of potential storylines heading into the final round of fixtures.


Mourinho’s third-season syndrome risk

Article image:4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action

José Mourinho’s Roma tenure appears to be heading down its infamous third-season route after falling  off the pace in Serie A, while Europa League progress remains precarious.

In simple terms, the ‘Special One’ requires a win against Sheriff Tiraspol and hope Slavia Prague lose to Servette to reach the knockout stage to seal his side’s place as Group G winners.

A draw by the Czech outfit would require the Giallorossi to see off Real Madrid’s one-time conquerors by a margin of more than four goals and still see them fall short on a tie-breaker ruling.

Roma chiefs reportedly plan to extend Mourinho’s stay in the Italian capital beyond this campaign but plenty will still hinge on how far things unravel by then, starting potentially on Thursday.


How heavily Liverpool will rotate

Article image:4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action

Liverpool’s passage into the Europa League’s knockout stage is already assured, leaving them with no more challenges until March’s last-16 phase.

Changes for their Group E dead rubber at Union Saint-Gilloise are expected with Jürgen Klopp admitting that he will rotate his squad for the game.

The competition has been a useful proving ground for the German, who has utilised 26 different players across his side’s previous five group outings.

But with injuries steadily beginning to accumulate, the Reds’ manager may call on less experienced heads ahead of a testing month-and-a-half ahead.


Who gets the knockout short straw?

Article image:4️⃣ things to look out for in Thursday’s European action

For one last time, teams that fell short in the Champions League group stage will drop into the Europa’s preliminary knockout round.

That final flourish sees several of the continent’s dark horses heading into the play-offs to take on those that finished as group runners-up.

Milan, Feyenoord and Galatasaray are some of the sides joining while Sparta Prague and Union Saint-Gilloise currently face the Conference route.

As Barcelona discovered last season, the draw can deal a cruel hand for those who have fallen from the biggest stage as much as those paired with them.