My soccer facts ⇒ items
Posted by Jonathan Lewis | 24 NOV. 2021
The UEFA Europa League returns this midweek with the penultimate round of the group stage.
Myfootballfacts, along with Offers.bet, the sports betting offers website, invites you to take a look at the four most fascinating matchups to watch out for on Thursday.
Bayer Leverkusen versus Celtic
Bayer Leverkusen faces the penultimate game of Group G against Celtic shortly before they reach the second round of the Europa League.
The Bundesliga heavyweights have found their trip to the Europa League a walk in the park and won three of their four group games while winning the other a draw.
Another triumph against the tour group, who were defeated 4-0 in the second leg on foreign soil, will be enough for the top spot if Betis loses points at home to Ferencvaros.
On the flip side, Celtic has brought its Europa League season back to life, which has ranged from consecutive losses to Leverkusen and Betis to two wins against Ferencvaros.
For the Bhoys, who are only one point behind second-placed Betis, the top two placement is now quite possible.
Celtic can take inspiration from a striking away form after winning the last five competitive games on enemy turf and scoring more than 2 goals each time.
While Bayer Leverkusen – the only team in these four games to make the Europa League winners list – is expecting a win and is on the way to winning another European Cup.
Leicester City versus Legia
Desperate to recover from an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, Leicester City host current Group C runners-up Legia Warsaw at King Power Stadium.
The return of a triumph from the first four Europa League games (U2, L1) has downplayed Leicester’s reputation as one of the leading contenders for conquering the competition.
Brendan Rodgers’ side will seek to defy their indifferent form and return the favor to Legia for a worrying 1-0 defeat in Warsaw second leg.
With just one point ahead of kick-off, the Foxes would outperform the Polish powerhouse in the overall standings with a win in the East Midlands.
After Leicester had no win in the last four competitive home games (D2, L2 – only 90 minutes), Leicester hopes to give the fans present a reason to cheer.
Easier said than done when you consider that Legia has made its only previous visits to England to major European competitions.
Monaco versus Real Sociedad
Monaco and Real Sociedad face each other in a showdown of top group B at the Stade Louis II, although neither team has lost a Europa League game this season.
Due to a lack of consistency, Monaco switched between a win and a draw in the four Group B games, three of which were scored with two or fewer goals.
Les Monegasques enter the field in the midst of a difficult period, having not won any of their last four games in any competition (U3, L1).
As for Sociedad, Sunday’s zero-zero home game against Valencia in La Liga means they have been unbeaten in their last 17 competitive games (9 wins, 8 losses).
But the Basque giants are slowly turning into “stalemate kings”, with four of the last six games ending at the level.
Another draw in the French principality may not be enough for second-placed La Liga team to advance to the Europa League round of 16 as they have a narrow one-point lead over third-placed PSV Eindhoven.
Galatasaray versus Marseille
After an unlucky Ligue 1 game in Lyon at the weekend, Marseille travels to the Turk Telekom Arena to face Group E leaders Galatasaray in a competitive match.
Although Marseille were unbeaten in their first four Europa League games, they could be eliminated with one game to go if the results aren’t going in the right direction.
After a draw in their first four Group E games, the Ligue 1 side could say goodbye to Europe’s second division side if they lose in Istanbul and Lazio beat Lokomotiv Moscow away.
In the meantime, Galatasaray were able to maintain their unbeaten season in Group E (S2, U2) in the last 1-1 draw against Lokomotiv, giving them a three-point lead over second-placed Lazio.
However, it denied them the opportunity to become the first team in Europa League history to complete the entire group stage cycle with one goal.
Should they avoid a defeat here, however, the Turks will book their tickets for the eighth finals of the Europa League, an achievement they last achieved in the 2018/19 season.
Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer