UEFA not only expanded the number of European club competitions, but also partially changed the rules for their conduct. Now the losers of the Champions League are forced to fight for the right to play in a less prestigious tournament. At the same time, the teams that took third place in the Europa League group stage are not eliminated from European competitions, but are fighting for the right to continue playing in the Conference League. It is this stage of the play-offs that our review is devoted to.
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You can’t pass without full dedication
In the play-offs for the right to play in the ⅛ playoffs of the Conference League, there are no obviously passing teams, just as there are no top European clubs. An exception in this list, and even then with a big stretch, can be made for the Roman Lazio, which feels confident in Serie A – one of the strongest leagues in the world. With a close acquaintance with the opposing pairs, it is still possible to identify favorites.
Karabakh – Ghent
In the European table of ranks, Karabakh occupies 64th place, which indicates the team’s successful play in the early stages of European cups. In the championship of Azerbaijan, the team is confidently leading, ahead of the nearest rival by 5 points. Gent played indistinctly in the group stage of the Conference League, the national championship also failed. The favorite in this pair is Karabakh.
Trabzonspor – Basel
Trabzonspor started well in the Turkish championship, but failed in the group Europa League. Successful matches are replaced by defeats to weak opponents: the team is in a fever. Basel is famous for its intransigence, good organization of the game and discipline. Thanks to these qualities, the Swiss are considered the favorite in the confrontation with the “black lions”.
Lazio – CFR Cluj
Lazio frankly surprises. The team is fighting for medals in Serie A but fails to qualify for the Europa League playoffs. Most likely, the point here is the lack of necessary motivation and underestimation of the opponent. CFR Cluj is having a frankly weak season. The team performs uncertainly in the home championship, Cluj did not play much better in the LC group stage. Despite all the problems with motivation, the Romans will go further.
Boude/Glimt – Lech
The Norwegians have already proven. that they can beat any opponent. Game discipline. excellent physical fitness and psychological stability – these are the main trump cards of Glimt. Lech also boasts victories against strong teams, but the Poles still have less chance. Of this pair, Bodø/Glimt will advance to the ⅛ finals of the Conference League.
Braga – Fiorentina
With such a squad, they would play in the Champions League, but Fiorentina may not stay in the Conference League for a long time. And this despite the fact that the “violets” were considered one of the most real contenders for the title. Braga looks worthy in the Portuguese championship, showing a fairly mature game and is unlikely to agree to give up a place in the ⅛ finals without a fight. A pair without a clear favorite may have a slightly better chance for the Italians.
AEK Larnaca – Dnipro-1
The third meeting of the Cypriots with the Ukrainian teams. Prior to this, AEK had already beaten Dnipro-1 in the Europa League qualification, then defeated Dynamo in the LE group stage. Whether the Ukrainians, who have significantly improved their game, will be able to take revenge on the offender will become clear at the end of winter. In the meantime, the chances of the Cypriots are regarded a little higher.
Sheriff – “Partisan”
Both Sheriff and Partizan successfully play in the national championships, both teams are desperately fighting on the international arena. In the Europa League, Sheriff had very serious rivals (Manchester United and Real Sociedad) – it is not surprising that the team was relegated from the LE. Partizan played decently with Cologne and Nice, in this pair the Serbs are the favorites.
Ludogorets – Anderlecht
For the Belgian team, the season is not going too well. The team plays disgustingly in the national championship, where it sank to the relegation zone. There is also a crisis in international games (five points in the last five matches). Against the background of Anderlecht, Ludogorets looks like an undoubted favorite. The team is leading in the championship of Bulgaria, very worthily represented their country in the Europa League. Next comes Ludogorets.