Europa League overview: Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton conclude group stages

By on December 13, 2023

jurgen klopp liverpool

The Europa League group stages will conclude on Thursday with the Premier League contingent already safely through to the knockout stages.

Liverpool, West Ham and Brighton have all booked their place in the next phase of the competition, but they’ll still be looking to sign-off in style in their final group stage games this week. Let’s take a look at their final matches:

Union Saint-Gilloise vs Liverpool

Liverpool travel to the Lotto Park in Belgium to take on Union SG in their final Group E game, which kicks off at 5.45pm UK time.

The Reds have made light work on the group stages and have already secured top spot having taken 12 points from their five games so far. Therefore, there is very little left to play for other than pride for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Liverpool thrashed LASK at Anfield two weeks ago to seal their place in the last-16 with Luis Diaz, Mo Salah and a brace from Cody Gakpo getting the job done. They also beat Union SG 2-0 in the reverse fixture so they’ll be confident of picking up a positive result on Thursday evening.

While Liverpool have nothing to play for, the stakes are high for the hosts as Union SG still have a chance of snatching second place to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

A goalless draw with Toulouse two weeks ago has left Union SG sitting three points behind the French outfit in the table. They need to beat Liverpool and hope LASK beat Toulouse to progress to the next stage.

The game is expected to be sold-out but supporters could still buy tickets for the match at a trusted reseller site such as seatsnet.com.

Team news

Liverpool will be without midfielder Alexis MacAllister after he suffered a knee injury against Sheffield United last week. Joel Matip has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury while Diogo Jota is still nursing a muscle issue.

Andrew Robertson is still recovering from a shoulder injury so he won’t travel to Belgium while Stefan Bajetic is out with a calf injury. Thiago Alcantara is back in training from a hip problem but this game is likely to come too soon.

Klopp is likely to rotate his squad with the likes of Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konate, Curtis Jones, Cody Gakpo and Harvey Elliot expected to be recalled to start. Virgil van Dijk and Mo Salah are among those set for a rest ahead of the Man Utd game this weekend.

Union SG have no injury concerns to worry about but they’ll be without midfielder Cahrles Vanhoutte as he’ll serve a one-match suspension.

Prediction: Union 1-2 Liverpool

Brighton vs Marseille

Brighton take on Marseille in their final group stage game at the Amex Stadium on Thursday night with top spot still up for grabs.

The Seagulls have already qualified for the knockout stages as they sit six points ahead of third-placed AEK Athens in second place in Group B. However, with leaders Marseille just one point ahead, Brighton could still finish top with a win on home soil over the French giants.

Even if they have to settle for second place, Brighton would certainly have taken that when the draw was announced as they faced a tough group that also includes Dutch giants Ajax. So they’ve done a terrific job to qualify for the knockout stages with a game to spare.

Since beating AEK Athens two weeks ago, Brighton have endured a mixed run of results in the Premier League. They beat Brentford 2-1 at home, narrowly lost away to Chelsea before playing out a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Burnley last weekend.

In the reverse fixture, the Seagulls came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Marseille in France so they should be confident of getting a positive result on home soil on Thursday night.

Team news

Roberto De Zebri will be without Solly March, Julio Enciso, Pervis Estupinin, Ansu Fati, Tariq Lamptey, Adam Webber and Danny Welbeck due to injury issues. Joel Veltman missed the draw with Burnley but is expected to return on Thursday.

As for Marseille, Joaquin Correa is out with an ankle injury while Valentin Rongier is ruled out due to a knee problem. Geoffrey Kondogbia may also miss out due to a muscle injury but former Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should start on his return to England having scored seven goals in his last four games.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Marseille

West Ham vs SC Freiburg

The Hammers welcome Freiburg to the London Stadium on Thursday night looking to cement top spot in Group A. West Ham have already secured their place in the knockout stages and are currently top due to their superior head-to-head record with Freiburg.

A draw would therefore be enough for West Ham to progress straight to the last-16. However, defeat would see the Londoners drop to second and mean they’ll have to navigate an extra round in the last-32 phase.

West Ham have taken 12 points from their five games so they’ll be looking to wrap up a very successful group stage campaign with another positive result on home soil. They won the reverse fixture 2-1 in Germany with a narrow 2-1 defeat away to Olympiacos their only defeat so far.

West Ham have had mixed results since beating Backa Topola last time out in Europe. They drew at home to Crystal Palace before securing an impressive 2-1 victory over Tottenham earlier this month.

However, their squad was decimated by a stomach bug at the weekend as they crashed 5-0 to Fulham so David Moyes will be hoping some of his players will return to full fitness for the visit of Freiburg on Thursday night.

Team news

Emerson Palmieri, Sadi Benrahma and Edson Alvarez are all expected to return to the starting eleven after being on the bench at the weekend. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola could come in for Lukasz Fabianski between the sticks but attacker Michail Antonio remains out with a knee injury.

Danny Ings is pushing for a recall in attack while Angelo Ogbonna and Konstantinos Mavropanos are options in defence if Moyes wants to freshen things up from Sunday’s drubbing at Craven Cottage.

As for Freiburg, they are likely to stick with the same side that beat Wolfsburg at the weekend. Striker Michael Gregoritsch should keep his place up front ahead of Junior Adamu after netting his fifth goal in three games at the weekend.

Prediction: West Ham 1-1 Freiburg