Preview: 2014/15 UEFA Europa League – Group Stage
Borussia Moenchengladbach 60%
Apollon Limassol 25%.
Villarreal and Borussia should advance without big troulbes, maybe Zurich could try to reach the second place and eliminate Borussia, but they won’t have to drop point to Apollon Limassol, that surely won’t end at 0.
FC Kobenhavn 40%
KK Club Brugge 60%
Torino FC 55%
This is one of the weakest and surely one the most balanced groups, every team could qualify for Round of 32, even HJK.
Club Brugge is my favorite for the first place and in my opinion is the only team almost sure to qualify, Torino could reach the second one, but FCK and HJK have their chances to.
It’s true that Torino during the market made the cover longer, but the outcome of this Group will also depend on whether Torino field their regular starters or not, because, for example, their alternative forwards, Larrondo and Barreto, wouldn’t probably start in Serie B.
FCK is sometimes quite unpredictable in EL, and I think they could be the negative “surprise” of this Group, being in Pot 1, because they’re facing difficulties in Danish league and they could take this competition not too seriously, while HJK could be the positive one.
Tottenham Hotspur FC 90%
Besiktas JK 75%
FK Partizan 10%
Asteras Tripoli FC 25%.
Tottenham and Besiktas should be able to advance very easily, Tottenham even fielding the second lines.
Asteras could make both Tottenham and Besiktas drop few points.
There’s a confrontation between a Turkish and a Greek side and these matches are usually quite interesting on the stands, but I don’t think that Asteras is famous for its fans.
FC (Red Bull) Salzburg 75%
Celtic FC 40%
GNK Dinamo Zagreb 30%
Astra Giurgiu 55%.
This is probably the most weak or the second weakest Group.
RBS has probably been cursed in CL PO since they changed their name from Austria Salzburg to Red Bull Salzburg, but in EL GS they often perform well and recently won their groups twice with 18 points, and they have the potential to repeat that again, but it must be said that sometimes they can be very dispappointing as well.
Celtic was probably the weakest team in Pot 2, and in another average Group they would generally be eliminated, unless they sack Ronny Deila or the Norwegian manager starts to make the squad work properly, but in this weak Group they could qualify (last season they probably would have advanced quite easily).
I won’t say anything on Dinamo Zagreb, because they are too unpredictable, while Astra Giurgiu has concrete chances to qualify, despite being at their first experience in GS: finally I’d bet on the Austrian and the Romanian team.
Panathinaikos FC 55%
Dynamo Moscow 80%.
Before the draw of the team from Pot 4, this one was one of the weakest group, but the arrival of Dynamo Moscow changed everything.
The Russian team, after experiencing few difficulties in the past in EL PO, will now face a Group Stage for the first time in its history: they probably have the strongest and most complete squad, so they are favorite to qualify, but it’s also true that Russian teams are often unpredictable.
I give no chance to Estoril, but they could make other teams drop some decisive points, while PSV and PAO will probably battle for the second place until the last minute of matchday 6.
FC Inter 75%
FC Dnipro 55%
AS Saint Etienne 55%
FK Qarabag 15%.
This is probably the second hardest group.
FK Qarabag can already be happy to be in GS and probably has no chances to qualify, but coul collect few decisive points, especially against FC Dnipro and ASSE and maybe also against FC Inter if they fielded several second lines.
If Inter FC always played with its best men, it should be able to end first or second, otherwise (Mazzarri can’t manage three matches in a week very well) the battle with ASSE and Dnipro could be very hard and balanced.
Dnipro will probably have to play in Kiev its home matches, and this could be a small handicap.
Sevilla FC 80%
Standard Liege 40%
This should be an average but quite balanced group.
Sevilla, the title holder, should be able to qualify quite easily, while the battle for the second place is quite open.
Last season Standard Liege didn’t take EL too seriously in order to focus on the Belgian League and to try to win the Title (anyway they failed), and they were very disappointing in a quite easy Group. If they made this choice again, they would probably have no chance to advance, while Feyenoord, that lost several important players in the Summer and probably haven’t replaced them properly, is back to a GS after several years and should take this competition quite seriously; moreover they’ll be able to count on an always sold out De Kuip.
NK Rijeka is a growing team with an ownership that is investing significantly on the team, without crazy expenditures, and potentially could defeat both Standard Liege and Feyenoord, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to be continuous in their results.
Finally I’d pick Sevilla FC and Feyenoord, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see NK Rijeka at Round of 32.
Lille OSC 50%
VfL Wolfsburg 50%
Everton FC 50%
FK Krasnodar 50%.
This is one of the hardest group possible: probably there are the strongest teams from Pot 2 and Pot 3 and the second best from Pot 4, while Lille wasn’t among the best ones in pot 1 but it’s a good teams anyway.
All of the teams have no need to be introduced and have almost equal possibilities to advance: FK Krasnodar could be an unknown club to people who follow just Champions League, Premier League and World Cup, but they are investing several money and have few strong players for EL level.
They were one of the worst possible draw, because they don’t have neither a big history, nor a famous name, so they don’t attract big crowds to the stadium, but they can hammer you.
I really can’t find the favorites ones.
SSC Napoli 80%
AC Sparta Praha 55%
BSC Young Boys 50%
SK Slovan Bratislava 15%.
Napoli is doubtless the strongest team, but they could be defeated from both Sparta Praha and Young Boys, but the Czech and the Swiss clubs could drop poits eachothers and even to Slovan Bratislava, that could also have few slight chances to end second.
Despite their owner not liking Europa League (but their manager Rafa Benitez, who won it with Chelsea, probably does), Napoli should win this Group, while AC Sparta, that is maybe a bit stronger, and Young Boys, should battle for the second place.
Dynamo Kyiv 80%
Steaua Bucuresti 75%
Rio Ave 20%
This should be one of the closest, and maybe one of the weakest, groups.
Dynamo Kyiv, the only Ukrainian side that will be allowed to play at its home stadium, and Steaua Bucuresti are clearly favorite to advance, while, if they don’t drop points eachother, one between Rio Ave and AaB could have few slight chance to qualify if one between Dynamo and Steaua lost both of the direct confrontations.
AFC Fiorentina 75%
PAOK FC 50%
Dinamo Minsk 30%.
If Fiorentina played all the matches fielding the best men, they should qualify without any troubles, but probably they’ll rotate their players, so few matches could be more tricky for them, but they should qualify anyway.
All the other teams could beat Fiorentina, but they could drop points eachother and I can’t see another team bossing this Group: for the second place the battle is quite open, but PAOK FC should be a little bit stronger, while it’s true that Guingamp usually is a low-table team, but Ligue 1 is stronger than Greek and Belarussian leagues.
Finally Dinamo Minsk proved to be a very solid team in the Qualifying Rounds, and surely they won’t end at 0 and they won’t be easy opponents for nobody: they are probably the team that has less chances to advance, but still could have few slight ones.
Metalist Kharkiv 60%
Legia Warszawa 45%
This is probably an average group, not too strong and not too weak, and one of the most balanced one.
A couple of years ago Metalist would have qualified surely: today they are probably still the strongest team, but, despite not changing a lot, they look just a little bit weaker, and moreover they’ll have to play their home matches at a neautral venue.
Trabzonspor and Legia faced eachother in last year GS, and the Turkish team proved to be better, but it must be said that last season Legia collected just 3 points in 6 matches, but sometimes it was quite unlucky and this season looks more convincing, at least on the pitch.
Lokeren is probably the most difficult team to evaluate and could be quite unpredictable: anyway a Belgian team that eliminated Hull City in PO should have more or less the same chance