What to watch on Matchday 3 of the UEFA Europa Conference League
No less than 52 goals have been scored in the 16 matches on Matchday 2 of the UEFA Europa Conference League, and there will be plenty more to come as the group stage heads towards its halfway mark.
In this article brought to you by Enterprise, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the next round of meetings.
How Qualifying for Knockouts Works
The eight group winners are automatically qualified for the round of 16. Additional play-offs between the eight runners-up and the third-placed teams in the UEFA Europa League groups will then be played before the round of 16.
Thursday, October 6
group A: Hearts vs Fiorentina (9:00 p.m.), RFS vs İstanbul Başakşehir (21:00)
Group B: Anderlecht v West Ham (6:45 p.m.), Silkeborg v FCSB (6:45 p.m.)
Group C: Lech vs H. Beer-Sheva (6:45 p.m.), Villarreal vs Austria Wien (9:00 p.m.)
Group D: Slovácko vs Nice (6:45 p.m.), Cologne vs Partizan (21:00)
Group E: Dnipro-1 vs Vaduz (6:45 p.m.), AZ Alkmaar vs Apollon Limassol (21:00)
Group F: Molde v Shamrock Rovers (6:45 p.m.), Gent v Djurgården (21:00)
Group G: Sivasspor v Ballkani (6:45 p.m.), Slavia Praha v CFR Cluj (21:00)
Group H: Pyunik vs Žalgiris (6:45 p.m.), Basel vs Slovan Bratislava (21:00)
What to pay attention to
The 1976 finalists reunite
After back-to-back wins over FCSB and Silkeborg in their opening two group matches, West Ham travel to Brussels to face Anderlecht in a repeat of the 1976 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final. of the Hammers with Trevor Brooking and Frank Lampard Sr were beaten 4-2 at Heysel Stadium 46 years ago in what remains their last major European final.
Like David Moyes’ side, Anderlecht have had a disappointing start to the domestic campaign but are trailing West Ham in Europe with four points from two games so far. Felice Mazzù’s side are yet to concede a goal in Group B, but their goalless draw at FCSB on matchday two extended their uneven form to one win in seven games in all competitions.
Ljubicic in the lead in Cologne
Speaking of revenge, Cologne and Partizan have also met before, in the 1974/75 UEFA Cup Round of 16. The “Billy Goats” triumphed 5-2 on aggregate and reached the semi-finals of the competition, where they lost to rivals North Rhine-Westphalia and eventual winners Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Midfielder Dejan Ljubicic continued his recent purple smudge in Cologne’s Matchday 2 victory at home to Slovácko. The 24-year-old Austrian has scored five goals in seven starts in all competitions this season – two more than he managed in 32 appearances last term – and was recently hailed as the club’s ‘new leader’ by local media. Coach Steffen Baumgart was no less complimentary, saying Ljubicic had improved “exquisitely” this season.
Ishak out to continue the impact
All eyes will be on Lech Poznań’s Mikael Ishak when the Polish side host Hapoel Beer-Sheva. So far, the in-form Swedish striker has netted five goals (three goals, two assists) in Lech’s two group matches, more than any other player in the competition.
Including qualifying matches, the Stockholm-born goalscorer has scored 14 goals in 19 European appearances for the club since joining from Nuremberg more than two years ago. He was Lech’s top scorer in the Europa League in 2020/21, netting five times in six group games – although that wasn’t enough to stop them finishing bottom of their section. Suffice to say that Hapoel will have to be on its guard.
When are the Europa Conference League group stage matches played?
Day 4: October 13, 2022
Matchday 5: October 27, 2022
Matchday 6: November 3, 2022
• This week’s ties are reversed on Matchday 4. At that point, Istanbul Başakşehir, West Ham, Villarreal, AZ Alkmaar and Basel, all of whom have perfect records so far, may be looking to confirm their place in the Round of 16.
• After all four found the net on Matchday 2, Ishak, Villarreal’s Álex Baena, Partizan’s Fousseni Diabate and Slovácko’s Jan Kalabiška remained three-goals ahead of Matchday 3. Who will start to drift away as the group stage progresses?
• Group G leaders Slavia Praha have registered no less than 54 goal attempts in their first two games, at least ten more than any other team in the competition. If the Czech side can maintain this attacking momentum, they could go a long way.
Where is the 2023 UEFA Europa Conference League final being played?
The Eden Arena in Prague, Czech Republic has been selected to host this season’s Europa Conference League Final on June 7, 2023.
The 2013 UEFA Super Cup was held at the Eden Arena, with Bayern beating Chelsea 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes, and a showpiece match also went the distance two years later in the 2015 U21 EURO final, Sweden beat Portugal 4-3 on kicks.