Europa League & Europa Conference League draws analysed
Europa League draw, Europa Conference League draw, football

Europa League & Europa Conference League draws analysed

The group-stage matches for all of UEFA’s continental club competitions have now been confirmed following last week’s draws.

Here, we break down the Europa League and Europa Conference League draws and analyse what they mean for the teams involved.

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How do teams progress from the group stage?

Under the new format established last season, all three UEFA competitions play a 32-team group stage in which eight groups of four teams play each other at home and away.

In the Europa League, the eight group winners progress automatically to the Round of 16, while the eight runners-up play off against the eight teams who finished third in the Champions League groups for the remaining places.

The Europa Conference League follows the same pattern, with the play-offs between group runners-up and the third-placed teams from the Europa League.

From the Round of 16 onwards, all three competitions follow a standard knockout bracket, with teams playing at home and away before a single-legged final.

How important is it to win the group?

Since the Europa League was established in 2009-10, over half of the winners of both competitions (57%) had reached the final after topping their group.

It has been tougher for runners-up, who have made up fewer than one in every four quarter-finalists and have won trophies at half the rate of third-placed teams.

How many points are needed to qualify?

Over the same period, the magic number of points needed to progress from the group stage has been nine.

Roughly four in every five teams who reach this tally have finished as either winners or runners-up, compared to around half of those who win eight points.

Which nations have the best record?

Despite these competitions boasting clubs from a wider range of nations than the Champions League, teams from England, Germany and Spain have the best overall records in the group stage.

Their representatives have averaged over 1.8 points per game in group matches, with Italian clubs slightly behind with just over 1.7.

Who had the luckiest – and unluckiest – draw?

We have calculated the UEFA coefficients of every possible combination of opponents for each club to see how their actual draws compared.

In the Europa League, Portuguese side Braga can have no complaints about the draw – they will play one of the three weakest teams from each of the other pots.

Meanwhile, fellow Iberians Real Sociedad have a tough task ahead as they must play the strongest opponents from Pots 1 and 3.

In the Europa Conference League, Switzerland’s Basel drew the weakest team from Pot 2 and the third weakest from Pot 4, so should find it straightforward to reach the knockout phase.

The same cannot be said for Hapoel Be’er Sheva of Israel, who are in a group with the toughest side from Pot 1 and the second-strongest from Pot 4.

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