Since the introduction of the UEFA Cup in 1971/72, called the Europa League since 2009, the Werkself are in a European club competition for the 18th time in the club’s history. After the thriller of a final against Espanyol in 1988 when the Black and Reds lifted the heaviest of all UEFA trophies at 15 kilos, they will be looking for a repeat this season.
Similarly to back then, when the final was played over two legs, the Werkself and the other teams will face several changes in the competition this season. On the one hand, the number of participating teams has been reduced from 48 in twelve groups to 32 in eight groups. The tournament format has also changed.
After a total of six group matchdays, with the clubs playing each other home and away as usual, the group winners will qualify directly for the Round of 16. The eight second-placed teams will compete in a qualifying round with the third-placed sides in the Champions League for for a slot in the lest 16.
In a change to previous seasons, the third-placed teams in the Europa League are still involved after the group stage. The Europa Conference League, introduced by UEFA for the 2021/22 season, will see the third-placed teams from the Europa League groups progress to the Round of 32 in the newly created competition to face the group runners-up.
In addition to the big changes with the tournament format, there are some minor ones for the clubs involved and their supporters relating to kick-off times: Instead of last season’s 18.55 kick-off, the earlier of the two Thursday games will start ten minutes earlier at 18.45. The kick-off time for the later match remains unchanged at 21.00.
A last change is the venue for the final. Instead of the final being played in Budapest in 2022, the clash for the Europa League trophy will be staged at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, the home ground of the record Europa League winners FC Sevilla. The planned final venues have been put back by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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