2018-2019 Europa League: Ambling to Azerbaijan

Cuzittt

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The Europa League started in earnest today with some stellar play from teams representing San Marino, Andorra, Gibraltar, Malta, the Faroe Islands, Wales, and one lone team from Lithuania (Kosovo represented in the lone game Tuesday).

Going into next Thursday's second match day of the Preliminaries, the biggest lead is held by San Marino's Tre Fiori who kicked some Bala Town (Wales) butt by the scoreline of 3-0.

Who ya got?
 

Titans Bastard

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Looks like Tre Fiori's win was the first by a Sammarinese club in European competition in the last five years. San Marino still fell to dead last in the UEFA coefficients because both Kosovar clubs in Europe got results this week. Coefficients consider the last five seasons, so Kosovo should slowly rise in the rankings above the especially minnow-y minnows.

Speaking of which, this is Gibraltar's fifth year in Europe and they have - for now, anyway - passed the League of Wales and the Irish Premier League (N. Ireland) in the rankings.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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The prelim rounds of the EL with all these wierd teams from small cities in small countries is just the best thing ever. If I had the means I would spend a month going to these little towns in the mountains to watch these games with crowds of a few thousand fans and drink lots of wine and beer. Ahhh.
 

Titans Bastard

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The prelim rounds of the EL with all these wierd teams from small cities in small countries is just the best thing ever. If I had the means I would spend a month going to these little towns in the mountains to watch these games with crowds of a few thousand fans and drink lots of wine and beer. Ahhh.
Some fun ones:

FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein knocked off Levski Sofia on away goals. It's not as crazy as it seems; Liechtenstein has seven clubs who all play in the Swiss system. Vaduz are the "big" one and tend to yo-yo between the first and second divisions. Their Rheinpark Stadion looks like an extremely solid place to take in a game, though.




Chikhura Sachkhere of Georgia knocked out Beitar Jerusalem -- always good to see Israel's most prominently racist club lose.

Azeri and Kazakh clubs have steadily risen into the middle of the pack in UEFA coefficients, but Azeri clubs had a shocker -- losses to clubs from Hungary, Luxembourg, and Malta.
 

Titans Bastard

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What's happening in the SPL these days? Not only have none of the Scottish teams been eliminated by embarrassingly bad clubs like usual, they're mostly punching above their weight with wins over clubs from higher-ranked leagues.

Hibernian held on to advance past Asteras Tripolis (Greece)
Rangers are closing out Osijek (Croatia)
Aberdeen is giving Burnley everything they've got, late. 2-2 on aggregate and headed for extra time in 15 mins if nothing changes.
 

Titans Bastard

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There were some wild and/or notable results in the third qualifying round (first leg) today.

Dinamo Minsk 4-0 Zenit St Petersburg

Zenit won the UEFA Cup in 2008 and regularly makes the knockout rounds in the CL and EL. Dinamo Minsk aren't even the cream of the crop in Belarus; BATE Borisov has won the last 12 consecutive titles. It's always good to see Zenit lose. Even by Eastern European standards, the racism endemic among the that club stands out.

Trenčin 4-0 Feyenoord

Can we get a wellness check on @Tony the Pony? Trenčin finished fifth in Slovakia and qualified via the league's playoff system

The Eredivisie has slipped to 13th in the UEFA coefficients behind Denmark and if they have a stinker in Europe this year could drop further with a bunch of other leagues (Greece, Croatia, Switzerland) just a hair behind them.

Legia Warsaw 1-2 F91 Dudelange

I get the sense that being a fan of Polish club soccer would be immensely frustrating, such as during times when a flagship club loses to a club from Luxembourg at home.

Rangers 3-1 Maribor

Okay, Maribor aren't exactly Euro giants but they are Scottish kryptonite, having knocked out Rangers, Celtic, Hibernian, and Aberdeen in the last decade without losing even one leg to an SPL club.
 

Titans Bastard

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The two-legged scoreline of the Zenit-Dinamo Minsk is one you don’t see everyday.
Yeah, what a shitshow. Zenit was up 2-0, got a red card at 72'. Scored two goals in the next six minutes anyway to send it to extra time. Dinamo Minsk scored which gave them the away goals edge. Zenit scored two, then a Minsk player got a red card at 120', Zenit scored a PK, then another one later in stoppage time.

Crazy stuff and when you get that deep in Eastern Europe you just never know about some things...

Rangers held on to their aggregate lead in Slovenia and advanced.

Feyenoord couldn't even manage a home win against Slovakian opposition and lost 5-1 on agg.

Polish teams completed a craptacular year highlighted by Legia Warsaw's aggregate defeat to a Luxembourgish club. They are by far the highest ranked league to lose all their clubs at this juncture.

The Artist Formerly Known As Steaua Bucharest were saved by a stoppage time goal to lift them over Hajduk Split.

Burnley and Istanbul Basaksehir are still 0-0 on aggregate and look headed for extra time.


It's the end of the road for a few Americans, most notably Jonathan Amon at Nordsjælland and Emerson Hyndman at Hibernian.
 

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Isn't there some Swiss club whose field is at like 9000' above sea level, basically on the side of a mountain, and it's surrounded by dramatic mountains and valleys all around? I know I've seen pictures of it somewhere that are even more ridiculous than Vaduz one.
 

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Today in the first leg of the final round of qualifiers:

F91 Dudelange, the Luxembourgish club who vanquished Legia Warsaw, beat CFR Cluj of Romania 2-0. Crazy to think they have a very solid chance of making the group stage now.

Celtic were held to a 1-1 draw at Sūduva Marijampolė and will host the Lithuanians next week. Rangers take a 1-0 over Ufa to Bashkortostan.

Olympiacos beat Burnley 3-1 at home.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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Gibson got sent off for Burnley.

They’re not deep enough. Early rounds of Europa are brutal test of depth. Burnley are not going to last past this round of Europa and I don’t think they’ll finish top half in PL either- can’t see them beating out too many of Everton, Leicester, Palace, Bournemouth, Watford, Newcastle and even Wolves.
 

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Rangers managed a 1-1 draw in Russia to advance 2-1 on aggregate and qualify for the Europa League, despite playing with 9 players most of the last half hour.
 

Titans Bastard

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Congrats to F91 Dudelange, who became the first club from Luxembourg to make the Europa League group stage after beating CFR Cluj of Romania both home and away. They began their campaign losing in the CLQ1 to Vidi of Hungary (who wound up reaching the CLQ4), then beat Drita (Kosovo), Legia Warsaw (Poland), and Cluj in ELQ2-4. Respectable effort for a club of their stature.

Astana beat APOEL on penalties, which isn't remarkable, but how often do penalty shootouts end 2-1? That's some not great finishing.

A couple of the top leagues lost a club today. Burnley lost to Olympiacos 4-2 on aggregate and Atalanta lost to FC Copenhagen on penalties. RB Leipzig nearly lost on away goals to Zorya Luhansk, but scored a 90th minute penalty to pull ahead.

The top ranked league to have lost all its clubs is...still Poland (#22). But in the 20-30 ranked range, Israel (#25), Romania (29), and Slovenia (30) have been knocked out too. Luxembourg (43), Hungary (33), and Slovakia (31) are the lowest ranked league still alive.

Spain (1), Germany (4), and France (5) are the only leagues that haven't lost clubs yet. England (2), Italy (3), Russia (6), Belgium (9), and Turkey (10) have only lost one. [Not that impressive for England and Italy, since only one of their seven clubs is subjected to qualifying of any type.]

The lowest ranked countries with multiple clubs still alive are Norway (24), Scotland (21), and Cyprus (18). The lowest ranked clubs with three clubs still alive are Czech Republic (17) and Greece (14).

Pots for the draw tomorrow:

Pot 1
Sevilla (ESP)
Arsenal (ENG)
Chelsea (ENG)
Zenit St Petersburg (RUS)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
Besiktas (TUR)
Red Bull Salzburg (AUT)
Olympiacos (GRE)
Villarreal (ESP)
Anderlecht (BEL)
Lazio (ITA)

Pot 2
Sporting CP (POR)
Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
FC Copenhagen (DEN)
Marseille (FRA)
Celtic (SCO)
PAOK (GRE)
AC Milan (ITA)
Genk (BEL)
Fenerbahçe (TUR)
Krasnodar (RUS)
Astana (KAZ)
Rapid Vienna (AUT)

Pot 3
Real Betis (ESP)
Qarabag (AZE)
BATE Borisov (BLR)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
RB Leipzig (GER)
Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Malmö (SWE)
Spartak Moscow (RUS)
Standard Liège (BEL)
Zürich (SUI)
Bordeaux (FRA)
Rennes (FRA)

Pot 4
Apollon Limassol (CYP)
Rosenborg (NOR)
Vorskla Poltava (UKR)
Slavia Prague (CZE)
Akhisarspor (TUR)
Jablonec (CZE)
AEK Larnaca (CYP)
Vidi (HUN)
Rangers (SCO)
F91 Dudelange (LUX)
Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Sarpsborg 08 (NOR)
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Thursday kicks off another set of Europa league matches.

Arsenal gets on the board very quickly with a deflected header off a corner. One interesting note is that Arsenal has left Mkhitaryan at home due to the lack of a diplomatic relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but this is probably a pretty simple decision in the group stages considering Arsenal is starting mostly backups and young players. However, if Arsenal were to reach the final also in Azerbaijan this would not be so easy a decision.
 

Zososoxfan

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It's still a bit early in EL, but there are some good matchups and several...visible clubs playing today:

Betis v. Milan. I am PUMPED for this match, almost solely because I'm following Lo Celso's career very closely for Argentina NT purposes. Best match of the day IMO.
Sporting v. Arsenal. A surprisingly good matchup this early. Arse are playing better recently, but Sporting isn't bad.
Leipzig v. Celtic. A matchup worthy of the knockout rounds.
Zenit v. Bordeaux. Zenit has lots of Argentines and Bordeaux isn't awful, oui?
Marseille v. Lazio. Good clubs with international quality players and parts of the future PSG squad.

Sevilla, Villareal, Chelsea, Leverkusen among others also have matches.

Looking at my SlingTV lineup, it looks like the only match televised live is Betis v. Milan on Unimas? Is this right? I'm shocked that EL in particular hasn't figured out the Redzone style coverage which was outstanding during the later knockouts last year.
 

Zososoxfan

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Bump. Matches have started with everyone playing matchday 6 of group stages today. Groups G, H, I, J, K, and L are up first with plenty of spots available.

Edit: With YouTubeTV (YTTV), I get none of the matches. GJGE TNT.
 

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There's so much information to process I couldn't even tell you which match I'd want to watch, the criteria being quality and importance of the match.
 

fletcherpost

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Rangers need to beat Rapid Vienna (in Vienna) to progress. Goldson hit the post with a decent header from a free kick. Not too many chances aside from that.
 

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Bump because there are matches being played right now and the Gooners are currently losing in Belarus.

Thursday night lights!
 

Zososoxfan

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TNL returns as the R16 begins and you recognize more than half the clubs! Home teams listed first:

Chelsea v. Kiev
Frankfurt v. Inter
Zagreb v. Benfica
Napoli v. RB Salzburg
Valencia v. Krasnodar
Sevilla v. Prague
Arse v. Rennes
Zenit St. Pete v. Villareal

I had to look up Krasnodar - they play in the Russian Premier League.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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TNL returns as the R16 begins and you recognize more than half the clubs! Home teams listed first:

Chelsea v. Kiev
Frankfurt v. Inter
Zagreb v. Benfica
Napoli v. RB Salzburg
Valencia v. Krasnodar
Sevilla v. Prague
Arse v. Rennes
Zenit St. Pete v. Villareal

I had to look up Krasnodar - they play in the Russian Premier League.
Pretty respectable group.
 

PedroSpecialK

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Azmoun gets another for Zenit - they're holding their own, 1-1 against Villarreal in St. Peterburg as the second half begins
 

Zososoxfan

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Thursday brings us some really fun setups (today's home side listed first):

Kiev v. Chelsea (0-3), snooze
Salzburg v. Napoli (0-3), snooze
Krasnodor v. Valencia (1-2)
Benfica v. Zagreb (0-1)
Inter v. Frankfurt (0-0)
Prague v. Sevilla (2-2)
Villareal v. Zenit (3-1)
Arse v. Rennes (1-3)

Other than those first 2 matchups and the Villareal one, the other 5 ties are fairly interesting. Krasnodor has a tough road against Valencia but they did get the important away goal. Benfica-Zagreb isn't the sexiest matchup, but a goal from Benfica draws this one level and then those matches get very fun with the away-goal rule. Inter haven't been on great form and whatever's going on with Icardi isn't helping. Getting through will assuage some concerns however. Sevilla need a result since Prague has 2 away goals coming in. Which leaves us with the Gooners who are riding high after a big win against United this weekend. However, they have some serious work to do reversing a 2-goal deficit. That away goal is huge though.

I'm still going to mention that no competition would benefit more from Redzone like coverage quite like EL. I can't get overly excited about Benfica v. Zagreb, but if I'm getting highlights and the tie could swing in the last 10-15 minutes, I'd absolutely watch.
 

Zososoxfan

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Are these matches being televised in the US? I'm only getting Chelsea's drubbing of Kiev instead of a close finish in Kras-Valencia.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Was in meetings for the entirety of today's match, but Arsenal did pull off the big 3-0 comeback to beat Rennes.

Interesting that all 6 of the top 6 EPL sides are continuing in Europe to go with a killer finish. It's going to be brutal for the teams that finish outside the top 4 and with no hardware.
 

Titans Bastard

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Are these matches being televised in the US? I'm only getting Chelsea's drubbing of Kiev instead of a close finish in Kras-Valencia.
I think they are all supposed to be streamed on B/R Live and are broadcast on the various Univision channels as well.

AFAIK only the final will be on English language TV (TNT).
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Tough draw for Arsenal getting Napoli in the Europa Quarters. Chelsea meanwhile ends up with Slavia Praha.

Europa Quarter Drawings:
Napoli - Arsenal
Villareal - Valencia
Benfica - Frankfurt
Slavia Praha - Chelsea
 

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Villarreal-Valencia is an abomination. They really ought to eliminate intra-country matchups in the QFs unless a country has 3+ entries (and maybe even if).
 

Zososoxfan

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Villarreal-Valencia is an abomination. They really ought to eliminate intra-country matchups in the QFs unless a country has 3+ entries (and maybe even if).
Totally agree and this isn't insignificant either--it will affect league coefficients I believe.

Napoli Arsenal is worthy of the final, should be a blast.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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I've been missing Torreira in the Arsenal line up. Fantastic steal from a defender, great move to a shot that deflects into the net. 2-0 Arsenal.
 

PedroSpecialK

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The Benfica / Eintracht tie looks to have been effectively ruined by a poor refereeing error.

Frankfurt were down to 10 men early on a legitimate last-man foul, leading to a 1-0 Benfica advantage. Luka Jović (who else) leveled at 1-1.

Shortly after Joao Felix put Benfica back up 2-1, Filip Kostić looked to have drawn Eintracht back level with a goal off a set piece. The ball was near Danny Da Costa, though he did not unsight the keeper or (apparently) make contact with the ball. After the goal, and protest from a few Benfica players, the linesman put his flag up and the referee overturned the goal.

https://streamja.com/j9le

There isn't VAR for the EL quarterfinals apparently, but on replay Da Costa was level with the last defender. It's now 4-1 in Benfica's favor
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Arsenal should have won this game like 4-0 or 5-0. Hopefully this doesn't cost them advancing, but it probably costs them resting a player or two in the next leg.
 

Dernells Casket n Flagon

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Is it too early to talk about where Joao Felix ends up this summer? The 19 year old scored a hat trick for Benfica in the Europa yesterday, the youngest player ever to do so. He has previously been dubbed "The Next Ronaldo".