The 2023/24 UEFA Europa League is set to kick off with a fascinating array of groups that promise competitive clashes and intriguing storylines, reports Davidson Abraham
Group A is headlined by West Ham United, the favorites to top the group. Under the guidance of manager David Moyes, the Hammers are hoping to replicate their impressive run in the previous season’s competition. Freiburg, managed by Christian Streich, must contend with the erratic spending of Olympiacos, a side with more European experience. The Greek team’s third-place chances may set the stage for Backa Topola, newcomers to European competition, to face a challenging debut.
Group B shapes up as the “group of death.” Brighton and Hove Albion, in their maiden European campaign, are the group favorites, boasting an impressive squad under coach Roberto De Zerbi. However, perennial giants Ajax and unpredictable Marseille are expected to vie for the second spot. Greek champions AEK Athens may pose a threat, particularly on their home turf.
Group C presents an open contest, with Real Betis the standout favorite despite financial constraints. Aris Limassol hopes to make a mark, while Rangers and Sparta Prague battle for second place. Rangers, despite potential cohesion issues, can rely on the magic of European nights at Ibrox. Sparta Prague, however, won’t be pushovers.
Group D appears to be a straightforward affair, with Atalanta and Sporting CP expected to secure the top two spots. Both teams have shown inconsistency, but they remain favorites to advance. Sturm Graz, with their history of troubling Austrian giants Red Bull Salzburg, could challenge if the favorites stumble. Polish champions Rakow Czestochowa face a tough test in this competitive group.
Group E seems lopsided, with Liverpool the heavy favorites. Returning to Europe’s second-tier competition, Liverpool is poised to dominate the group. Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, Brighton’s affiliate club, aims to progress after reaching last season’s quarter-finals. LASK and Toulouse bring their unique qualities to the mix.
Group F promises an entertaining and closely contested group stage. Villarreal, despite managerial changes, remains the favorites. Stade Rennais, with significant summer investments, hopes to challenge for qualification. Maccabi Haifa and Panathinaikos could upset the balance, given their past successes in European competitions.
Group G features Roma as the clear front-runners. Last season’s runners-up are expected to top the group. Servette, Sheriff Tiraspol, and Slavia Prague will battle for the second spot. Slavia Prague holds the edge, but Sheriff’s European experience makes them contenders.
Group H showcases Bayer Leverkusen as the dominant force. Xabi Alonso’s side, focused on Bundesliga success, remains favorites to progress. Hacken, Molde, and Qarabag vie for second place, with each team viewing qualification as a historic achievement.
As the Europa League unfolds, these groups promise a captivating journey filled with surprises, upsets, and footballing drama.
Davidson Abraham’s forecast for 21/22 September 2023 fixtures
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 OLYMPIACOS VS FREIBURG 1X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 WESTHAM VS BACKA TOPOLA 1X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 AJAX VS MARSEILLE OVER 1.5
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 BRIGHTON VS AEK ATHENS 1X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 ATALANTA VS RAKOW CZESTOCHOWA 1X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 STURM GRAZ VS SPORTING 2X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 LASK VS LIVERPOOL 2X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 SHERIFF VS ROMA 2X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 BAYER LEVERKUSEN VS HAECKEN 1X
THU, 21 SEPT 2023 RENNES VS MACABI HAIFA 1X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 STUTTGART VS DARMSTADT 1X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 MONACO VS NICE 1X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 AL NASSR VS AL AHLI OVER 1.5
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 BOTEV PLODIV VS CSKA SOFIA 2X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 UCD VS SHAMROCK ROVER 2X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 SLIGO ROVERS VS DERRY CITY 2X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 ZELEZNICAR VS PARTISAN BELGRADE 2X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 MARISCAR MERSCH VS KAERJENG 1X
FRI, 22 SEPT 2023 SOHAR VS SUR 1X