As Matchday 5 approaches, only five teams have secured qualification to the next knockout stage of the Europa League. Eight places are awarded to the 3rd placed finishers from each Champions League group, leaving 19 spots unfilled with two matches to play.
The qualifiers so far include VfB Stuttgart and the two Russian representatives Zenit St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow who hold a 100% record in the competition. FC BATE Borisov and FC Porto have also qualified from the group stage along with FC Twente, Spartak Moscow and Rangers who have secured third place in their Champions League group.
So with 19 spots left to fill via the Europa League, what teams are sitting pretty or lying dangerously close to qualification failure?
This group includes two of the competition’s big hitters – Manchester City and Juventus. However, Lech Poznan have turned Group A on its head and now sit top with seven points along with City. FC Salzburg are all but out of the running, but could have a big say on what happens in Group A in the remaining two matches. If City and Lech both win on Matchday 5, qualification will be secure for both teams.
Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid can avoid a potential winner-takes-all situation on Matchday 6 if they both win on Matchday 5. Aris Thessaloniki FC still harbour hopes of qualification and can take it to the final set of games if they beat Atletico. They will then have to beat Rosenborg and rely on a victory for Leverkusen.
Sporting Lisbon have almost secured qualification and need just one point from the two remaining matches. Second place in Group C is not so easy to predict however, with all three teams separated by just one point. Gent possibly have the best chance to take second place as they avoid Lisbon in the remaining matches, but Levski Sofia and Lille will surely battle as hard as they can for qualification.
Goal difference will play a huge part in this group’s qualification with PAOK and Dinamo Zagreb on seven points and Villareal on six points. Similarly to Group B, qualification can be secured on matchday 5 for wins for the top two teams.
This is probably the most straightforward group with BATE securing qualification and Dynamo Kiev needing a win to proceed. AZ Alkmaar and FC Sheriff can qualify, but a draw in this week’s encounter between the two will practically distinguish any hopes for them.
If Palermo beat Sparta Prague this week, they will most certainly fancy their chances of qualification from Group F even though they are four points off second place. A win will put them one point behind Sparta and they will then need to beat FC Lusanne in the final game with CSKA holding Sparta to at least a draw.
Russian supremacy rules in this group with Zenit St Petersburg dominating. Second place is up for grabs, though, and it is hard to say who will take it. Anderlecht, Hajduk Split and AEK Athens are separated by a point, and results between the three have kept them bunched together with neither team breaking away. Qualification is in their own hands, however Hajduk avoid Zenit in the final two games, possibly giving them a distinct advantage.
No draws have occurred in this group so with VfB Stuttgart undefeated, it’s Young Boys in control of second place, sitting comfortably on six points. With Getafe and Odense sitting on three points and due to face each other this week, the winners will keep themselves in contention and goal difference could play a major part in who qualifies.
PSV Eindhoven are unbeaten, but two draws have kept them close to the chasing pack. Debrecen haven’t registered a point yet, so FC Metalist Kharkiv and Sampdoria can still qualify. Metalist face Debrecen this week so they can end Sampdoria’s challenge regardless of their results.
Sevilla, PSG and Borussia Dortmund are fighting it out for both qualifying places in Group J, with Karpaty unable to get a point from their previous games. Sevilla need just one point to secure their European football, but an away tie to PSG and then home to Dortmund could prove tricky to come through.
Liverpool need just a point to qualify and that could come this week away to Steaua Bucharest. The winners of Utrecht against Napoli will put themselves into qualification contention, but neither have registered a win in the group stage so a draw is on the cards.
Porto have qualified and Besiktas are on their way to joining them. They are currently four points clear of Rapid Vienna and CSKA Sofia, and face them both in their remaining two games.