The Europa League is set to resume this week, with match day three in the groups. These fixtures could go a long way to deciding who makes it through to the knockouts.
Arsenal and Sporting bring Champions League flavour
Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon will both be out to defend their perfect records so far in the Europa League group stages when they meet in Portugal on Thursday. You would be forgiven for thinking this is a Champions League clash for the simple reason that the two have been regulars in the past, but they now find themselves in the Europa League. The quality on both sides is equally impressive and the Gunners are particularly on a good run following ten consecutive wins in all competitions. Sporting Lisbon and Arsenal know this will be a crunch tie in the race for the top spot in Group E and we can expect a very explosive affair.
AC Milan to bounce back from derby defeat
AC Milan need to bounce back from their derby defeat at the weekend to Inter Milan when they host Real Betis in the Europa League. The Rossoneri have had a brilliant start in Europe, but their loss to their arch-rivals on Sunday disadvantaged them domestically. They have set their eyes on playing in the Champions League next season, but if they do not put together a number of wins they would need to win the Europa League to achieve their ambitions. That notwithstanding, they do have a good home record after winning five and drawing one of their last six. They have also managed to score at least twice in all their home games so far this season.
Marseille must march on against Lazio
Marseille and Lazio will be looking for a big win to get them back on track for qualifying to the knockout stages of the competition after being upstaged as group favourites by Eintracht Frankfurt. The hosts endured a difficult period which saw them lose three of their four games, but they have responded by going unbeaten in their last three. They managed to get a draw away to Apollon Limassol in the Europa League and they followed that with two wins domestically in Ligue 1. Lazio have won and lost three of their last six away matches, though Marseille have been more consistent at home following one loss in their last seven. This should give them the confidence to go into this game and come out with a good result.
Group I is anybody’s game
The competition in Group I is proving to be one of the most balanced in this year’s edition of the tournament after the first two games. All the four teams are tied on three points after each side won one and lost the other match. The goal difference isn’t much of a separating factor either as they all have tied on zero goals in that regard. Sarpsborg 08 sit at the summit of the table as they have scored four goals whilst Genk and Besiktas have both scored three and finally, Malmo have only scored two. As things stand they all have a realistic chance of winning the group depending on how the next matches pan out.
Chelsea to cement first place with a win to Borisov
Chelsea will be happy to maintain their winning start to the Europa League group stages when they host BATE Borisov at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have won their first two games in the group with identical 1-0 wins against PAOK and MOL Vidi. They remain unbeaten in their 12 competitive games under Maurizio Sarri, with nine victories coming from that period. BATE have a very poor away record after winning only one of their last 13 on the road in the tournament. Chelsea will want to confirm their qualification and a win could place them in firm position to lead the Group here.