Liverpool, Brighton and West Ham all in action as the Europa League kicks off

By on September 21, 2023

The Europa League, Europe’s secondary football competition, may not boast the prestige of the Champions League, but it still brings together the top teams from various European leagues, all competing for the coveted trophy.

Reigning champions Sevilla secured their seventh Europa League title by defeating AS Roma in the 2022/23 final. This victory also marked the ninth time in 15 seasons that a Spanish team claimed the trophy since its transformation from the UEFA Cup.

The question on everyone’s mind is whether a new contender will emerge, or if Sevilla, possibly dropping down from the Champions League, will aim for an eighth triumph.

The group stage welcomes 32 teams, including West Ham United, the winners of the Europa Conference League. Premier League clubs Liverpool and Brighton are also in the mix, with Brighton making their European debut. Roma, last season’s runners-up, Villarreal, Bayer Leverkusen, and Atalanta will also compete for the trophy.

Liverpool are viewed as the early favourite, drawn into a promising group with LASK, Union SG, and Toulouse. Meanwhile, Brighton embark on their maiden European adventure, facing Ajax, Marseille, and AEK Athens.

Looking at the key games from the first group stages on Thursday night, Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion as well as West Ham are drawn against competitive opponents. Europa League ticket holders are eagerly anticipating the start of the competition, so we take a look at some of the key games on the opening night of the group stages:


Liverpool’s journey in the Europa League begin with a trip to the Raiffeisen Arena to take on LASK in Group E.

The Reds secured a spot in the Europa League after a fifth-placed Premier League finish last season while LASK advanced by defeating Zrinjski Mostar in the qualifiers.

LASK, relatively new to European prominence, enters with confidence, boasting an impressive unbeaten run of seven competitive games. Their recent home performances have been stellar, with four consecutive wins and only one goal conceded.

Three-time Europa League winners, Liverpool are determined to add another European honor to their storied history. They enter the Europa League on a high note, having remained unbeaten in 16 consecutive competitive matches. Their goal is clear: secure a Champions League spot, either through a top-four Premier League finish or by winning the Europa League.

While this marks their first competitive encounter, LASK Linz have faced English sides before, notably securing a draw against Tottenham Hotspur in the 2020-21 season.


Brighton kick off their maiden European journey with a clash against AEK Athens in Group B at the American Express Community Stadium. This marks a historic moment for Brighton as they make their debut in European competition.

In their most recent Premier League match, Brighton stunned Manchester United at Old Trafford with goals from Danny Welbeck, Pascal Grob, and Joao Pedro securing a 3-1 victory for the Seagulls. Athens, on the other hand, settled for a 1-1 draw against Olympiacos in the Greece Super League.

Brighton’s entry into European competition draw parallels with Wigan Athletic’s participation in the 2013/14 season as an English debutant in a major European competition.

Brighton’s European debut appears to be in their favour, considering Athens’ recent struggles in major European competitions. Athens have won only one of their last 19 matches in European competitions, with 11 losses and seven draws.

Moreover, when it comes to debuting English teams in Europe, the last six have been quite successful, as none of them lost their first game, securing four wins and two draws.

Additionally, Athens have a poor track record against English opponents, having lost their last six major European matches against them, during which they conceded 16 goals while managing to score only three.

If these statistics are anything to go by, Brighton may have a favorable opportunity to make a strong start in European competition against the Greek club.


West Ham United kick off their Europa League campaign with a home fixture against Backa Topola at the London Stadium.

The Hammers enter the Europa League on the back of a successful Europa Conference League victory. Their performance in domestic competitions indicates that they have the potential to vie for the Europa League title.

Having faced a disappointing defeat to Braga in the Champions League qualifiers, Backa Topola have shown promise with their strong performance in domestic competitions.


Rangers begin their quest for the Europa League crown with a Group C encounter against Real Betis at Ibrox Stadium.

Recent form for Rangers have been a mixed bag, with two losses, including a 5-1 defeat to PSV Eindhoven and a 0-1 loss against Celtic, but they bounced back with a 0-2 win against St. Johnstone.

The Gers have been formidable At Ibrox Stadium winning five of their last six Europa League matches, scoring 15 goals and conceding four.

Real Betis, on the other hand, have experienced inconsistency in their recent matches, with two defeats and a win in their last three games.

Their most challenging defeat came against Barcelona with a scoreline of 5-0. However, their away record in the Europa League have been relatively solid, securing four wins in their last six matches.


Ajax commences their season with aspirations of clinching the Europa League crown. Their campaign kick off with a home fixture against Marseille in the Group B opener at Johan Cruyff Arena.

Ajax’s recent performances have also been unconvincing with a loss to Ludogorets, a goalless draw against Fortuna Sittard, and a defeat to Twente. The Eredivisie giants  have won three of their last six Europa League home matches, scoring eight goals and conceding five goals.

Marseille’s recent form includes a 2-0 win over Brest and draws of 1-1 against Nantes and 0-0 against Toulouse in their last three outings.

However, their performance in the last six Europa League away matches hasn’t been strong, as they have not secured a single win, recording three draws and three losses, scoring six goals, and conceding 13 times during these matches.

Other Europa League fixtures include: 

Rennes vs. Maccabi Haifa

LASK Linz vs. Liverpool

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Häcken

Qarabağ vs. Molde

Union Saint-Gilloise vs. Toulouse

Servette vs. Slavia Praha

Sheriff vs. Roma

Panathinaikos vs. Villarreal

Atalanta vs. Raków Częstochowa

SK Sturm Graz vs. Sporting CP

Ajax vs. Olympique Marseille

Rangers vs. Real Betis

Olympiakos vs. Freiburg

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. AEK Athens

Sparta Praha vs. Aris Limassol

West Ham United vs. TSC Backa Topola

The 2023/2024 Europa League season is set to deliver thrilling football excitement. With established teams, rising talents, Champions League aristocrats, European debutants, and the impending arrival of Champions League teams in the round of 32 all tussling out for the coveted trophy, it promises to be an exhilarating Europa League campaign.