Photo from fOTOGLIF
So, we’re out of Europe’s elite competition and instead must settle for a competition the likes of Villa, Everton and even Fulham have fielded weakened teams in this season.
The Europa League, formerly the UEFA Cup, was reformatted (again) this season, here’s the lowdown on the competition…
Liverpool & The UEFA Cup
The Reds have won the competition on three occasions (1972-73, 1975-76, 2000-01). The most recent being the incredible extra time 5-4 win over Alaves in May 2001. That was during the treble-cup winning era of Gerard Houllier.
The Europa League Format 2009/10
Who’s In It?
Actually, some pretty big names of European football; the likes of Ajax, Benfica, Valencia, Roma, PSV and Galatasaray are no strangers to the Champions League. Add in Lazio, Fenerbache, Werder Bremen, Villareal and Sporting Lisbon and there’s a decent group of teams.
Fulham, Everton and Celtic are still in there from these shores.
What’s the format?
It’s a bit complicated, to say the least! There’s currently 12 groups of 4 (yes, 12 groups!) which ends on December 17th. The top 2 teams from each group are added to the 8 teams knocked out of the Champions League to make up the final 32.
What’s the dates for the diary then?
It’s good old Thursday nights here (and therefore Sunday 3 o’clock’s in the League).
Knockout stages draw: December 18th
Last 32 tie: 18th and 25th February
Last 16 tie: 11th and 18th March
Final phase draw: 19th March
Quarter Finals: 1st and 8th April
Semi Finals: 22nd and 29th April
Final: May 12th, in Hamburg (Germany) at HSH Nordbank Arena. A UEFA elite stadium, the Norbank Arena has a capacity of 57,274 and hosted five matches in the 2006 World Cup finals.
Oh yeah, Uefa are currently trialling their 5 officials (4 linesmen) system in the competition!
Not surprisingly, Liverpool are already favourites to win the competition (8/1 with Ladbrokes). Shaktar Donetsk, Valencia, Roma and Werder Bremen are the other front-runners.
Obviously the chance of an all-Merseyside knockout round, or even final, would be highly interesting. There’s the first derby of the season this Sunday, maybe we’ll be seeing more than one after Christmas?