Quick guide to the Europa League after Liverpool’s 7-year absence

The last time Liverpool were in the Europa League they left with runners-up medals, now they are back for season 2023/24 – so what can we expect?

It is far from where the Reds wanted or needed to be but their fate was sealed some time ago, now they have to make the most of their place in Europe’s second-tier competition.

Liverpool’s ventures will take them to various part of the continent and who knows, maybe even Dublin come May.

There is a long time between now and then, though, and after more than seven years since the Reds’ last outing in the Europa League, here’s a guide for what you can expect.


How many teams are involved?

The competition starts with 32 clubs, who are broken up into eight groups of four.

For the group stage draw, on September 1, all teams will be seeded based on their club coefficients – meaning Liverpool will be in Pot 1 thanks to their recent success in the Champions League.

There is expected to be between 31 and 36 different associations involved from the initial qualifying rounds, meaning their could be some interesting trips to far foreign lands on the horizon.


What is the format?

NYON, SWITZERLAND - Monday, December 14, 2020: The UEFA Cup trophy on display during the UEFA Europa League 2020/21 Round of 32 draw at the UEFA Headquarters, the House of European Football. (Photo Handout/UEFA)

All 32 clubs involved in the group stages will be confirmed on August 31, following the final qualifying rounds.

Thereafter, in the competition proper, the group winners after six games (one home and one away match against each club) progress automatically to the round of 16.

The eight teams who finish as group runners-up will be involved in the knockout round play-off, matched with one of the eight third-ranked teams to drop out of the Champions League group stage.

Those play-off victors then move on to the round of 16, with the quarter-finals and semi-finals to follow. Each tie in the knockout phase is played over two legs.


When are the matches played?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 21, 2023: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop before the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matches are played on Thursday evenings, with the exception of the final, and clubs could play up to a total of 15 games on the way to the final. Matches kick off at either 5.45pm or 8pm (UK).

It starts with the group stage, and the dates are already locked in:

  • Matchday 1: September 21
  • Matchday 2: October 5
  • Matchday 3: October 26
  • Matchday 4: November 9
  • Matchday 5: November 30
  • Matchday 6: December 14

As for the knockout stages, the dates are as follows for the first and second legs:

  • Knockout round play-offs: February 15 and February 22
  • Round of 16: March 7 and March 14
  • Quarter-finals: April 11 and April 18
  • Semi-finals: May 2 and May 9
  • Final: May 22


Who has already qualified?

Alongside Liverpool, we know Villarreal, Bayer Leverkusen, Atalanta, AS Roma, Sporting CP, Rennes, Real Betis, Brighton, SC Freiburg and Toulouse have all qualified for the group stage so far.

Liverpool will be in Pot 1 for the group stage with Villarreal, Leverkusen, Atalanta and Roma, meaning they cannot be drawn against any other those sides.

The winners of the Europa Conference League, either Fiorentina or West Ham, will also progress to the group stage and into Pot 1.


Where is the final?

DUBLIN, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND - Saturday, August 4, 2018: A general view during the preseason friendly match between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at Landsdowne Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Europa League final will be held in Dublin, Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on May 22, 2024.

The winners of the tournament will automatically qualify for the following season’s Champions League, which will be under a new format, and also face the European Cup winners for the Super Cup.