Turkish clubs launch Europa League bids

Turkish clubs launch Europa League bids

Turkish clubs launch Europa League bids

Trabzonspor and Fenerbahçe launch their Europa League group stage campaigns on Sept. 8, hoping to go the distance after missing out on the Champions League.

Last season’s Süper Lig champion Trabzonspor, which was knocked out in the Champions League playoffs by Copenhagen, travels to Hungary to play Ferencvaros in a Group H match. Red Star Belgrade hosts Monaco in the group’s other game.

Fenerbahçe, meanwhile, starts its Group B campaign at home against Dynamo Kiev, which is set to play home matches in the Polish city of Krakow as war continues to rage in its home country.

The group also includes AEK Larnaca of Greek Cyprus and French club Rennes.

Two other Turkish clubs will compete in the Conference League, with Başakşehir visiting Hearts of Scotland and Sivasspor hosting Czech club Slavia Prague in their first group games of the season.

Premier League heavyweights Manchester United and Arsenal begin as the leading contenders for this season’s Europa League, although Jose Mourinho’s Roma is eyeing back-to-back continental titles after claiming the inaugural Europa Conference League earlier this year.

It is a long road to this season’s final at the Puskas Arena in Budapest on May 31, 2023, with clubs facing a packed schedule in order to complete the group stage before the World Cup in Qatar starts on Nov. 20.

That means the likes of United and Arsenal will be relying on their squad depth to get them through some of their less glamorous Thursday night fixtures while they try to maintain challenges at the top of the Premier League.

Returning to the Champions League has to be the priority for both, although winning Europe’s second-tier trophy is one way of getting there.

Eintracht Frankfurt was the surprise victor last season, beating Rangers in a breathless final in Seville, and it is notable that the last four winners of the trophy all began the campaign in the Europa League group stage, rather than dropping out of the Champions League.

The last club to fall out of Europe’s elite club competition and go on to win the Europa League was Atletico Madrid in 2018.

Erik ten Hag’s United should not face too many obstacles in advancing from Group E up against Real Sociedad, Sheriff Tiraspol and Neil Lennon’s Omonia Nicosia.

Real Sociedad, which finished sixth in La Liga last season, will travel to Old Trafford for the opening game with a 36-year-old David Silva in tow but without Alexander Isak following the Swedish striker’s departure for Newcastle United.

Arsenal, off to a fine start in the Premier League, has landed in a Champions League group in the sense that all three opponents dropped out of the qualifying rounds of that competition.

But none of them will strike fear into Mikel Arteta’s side, with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s PSV Eindhoven having lost to Rangers in the Champions League playoffs.

They will also face Norwegian champion Bodo/Glimt in Group A but start off away to FC Zurich.

Roma is an intriguing prospect as it looks to follow up its Conference League victory by winning a competition that Mourinho has got his hands on twice before, including with United in 2017.

Among its group-stage opponents will be Real Betis, whose coach Manuel Pellegrini was Mourinho’s predecessor at Real Madrid over a decade ago.

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