The UEFA Europa League is a prestigious annual soccer club competition based in Europe. The tournament is divided into three sections, the lower league where qualification takes place through a play-off held after each group stage. Then, the semi-finals and the grand final are held in separate places and teams are based at their home country for the entire competition. Each team plays one opponent from its respective league. The matches take place between sides that are based in different countries.
Unlike the usual knockout stage of the EFLA, the UEFA Europa League has a different set of rules, namely that the group stage winners automatically qualify for the next phase. This makes it a more attractive proposition for teams who would like to win their group and progress to the semis while also making it easier for lower league teams who want to make it to the playoffs as one of the last remaining teams. It also provides opportunities for teams who qualify through the knockout tournaments not only to get a ticket to the finals but also automatic qualification for the next level if they win the qualifying tournament. The major difference with the EFL/UEFA playoff format is that a win nets a team automatically right up to another knockout, whereas in the UEFA/Cup final, a team needs to win a score against an opposition that wins one or more matches in order to progress. So, there is no chance for a lower league side to lift the trophy if they manage to beat a team that has qualified.
The introduction of the new competition has seen many teams adopt new formations and play exciting football as they try to win the domestic cup for a place in the top four of the EUROPA LEAGUE. Some of these changes have been made for the better, but some have not been effective and this may well have a bearing on how the final outcome goes. It seems that the old style of playing where the wingers played very deep and had very little support, has been replaced by a more attacking style that sees wingers linking up well with strikers who are able to hit the goals from range. The result has been a much improved flow of play, which has resulted in a number of goals being scored.
In the previous competition, the winner of each group was decided through a draw, with two teams progressing from their respective groups. This means that the competition has become much more balanced and teams have been forced to play better football in order to win. The draw system has also meant that the seeded groups have been much tougher than before, meaning that only the very best teams have a realistic chance of advancing to the semis and beyond. The introduction of a new competition format has worked wonders for the popularity of the European cup. More teams are now interested in joining, increasing the potential for growth in the years to come.
The new system of European soccer tournaments also mean that there are now four semis, rather than the traditional three, for the competition. Each group is played in a round robin format until a team is only a point away from winning the trophy. After this, the playoffs are played in a round robin format until the final, which is usually held in the summer months. The EUROPA LEAGUE has proven to be a great development for the game, offering fans a genuine opportunity to see some of the best teams from Europe to compete against one another. The new-style of play and the increased interest in the competition by fans have only served to boost this year’s campaign, with many teams fighting hard to finish in the top two.
Last year’s runners-up Slovan Bratislava, Ferenczi Vitoria Calcioja and runaway leaders Benfica Lisbon had all suffered heavy disappointments in their attempts to win the EUROPA LEAGUE. Some may have expected big things from these teams, but they are not fit to challenge the top teams. Benfica made it to the quarter finals of the competition but only barely came out as runners-up to eventual champions Besiktas. Slovan Bratislava, Vitoria Calcioja and Ferenczi, on the other hand, have been impressive during their runs in the league, giving many hope that they too have what it takes to challenge the very best when it comes to the European club competitions.