Champions League’s Influence on Europa League Doesn’t Faze Liverpool, Leverkusen as They Lead the Pack

Champions League's Influence on Europa League Doesn't Faze Liverpool, Leverkusen as They Lead the Pack

Following Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen’s smooth advancement to the Europa League round of 16, the competition’s landscape is set to expand with the inclusion of third-place teams from the Champions League.

Champions League's Influence on Europa League Doesn't Faze Liverpool, Leverkusen as They Lead the Pack
Champions League’s Influence on Europa League Doesn’t Faze Liverpool, Leverkusen as They Lead the Pack

Golazo Starting XI Newsletter Your ultimate guide to the Beautiful Game as our experts take you beyond the pitch and around the globe with news that matters.

I agree to receive the “Golazo Starting XI Newsletter” and marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers), and other information from CBS Sports and the Paramount family of companies. By pressing sign up, I confirm that I have read and agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge Paramount’s Privacy Policy. Email Address Both Liverpool and Leverkusen emerge as front-runners to clinch the trophy next spring, having secured their places in the knockouts as group stage winners. Following a captivating group stage in both the Champions League and the Europa League, anticipation builds for potential high-profile matchups in the knockout round playoffs. Here, Europa League group stage runners-up clash with third-place sides from the Champions League. The playoff victors then proceed to face off against the Europa League group winners, setting the stage for challenging encounters as early as the round of 16, especially for Liverpool and Leverkusen.

Here’s an overview of the clubs worth keeping an eye on, ranging from group winners and runners-up to Champions League drop-downs:

Group Winners to Watch Bayer Leverkusen: Alongside Slavia Prague, Leverkusen stands as the sole team to exit the Europa League group stages with an impeccable record of six wins out of six. Leading the Bundesliga with a four-point advantage, Xabi Alonso’s side exhibits dominance across various tactical metrics, boasting a formidable goal-scoring and defensive record. While their victories came against relatively weaker opponents, such as Qarabag, Molde, and Hacken, Leverkusen must now demonstrate their prowess against top-tier rivals.

Liverpool: Similar to Leverkusen, Liverpool ranks among the top three in tactical categories, a remarkable feat given Jurgen Klopp’s rotation strategy during the group stage. Despite stumbling with a 3-2 loss to Toulouse, where they dominated possession and shots but lacked clinical finishing, Klopp’s challenge lies in ensuring his squad depth matches up against tougher opponents, especially amid their Premier League title pursuit.

Runners-Up with Championship Potential AS Roma: Despite an imperfect season, last season’s Europa Conference League winners, AS Roma, appear to be on an upward trajectory. Known for their solid defense under Jose Mourinho, conceding just four goals in six games, Roma’s inconsistency in attack remains a concern. However, with Romelu Lukaku leading the line after netting four goals in the group stage, Roma poses a threat to any opponent.

Champions League Third-Place Teams with Strong Prospects AC Milan: Despite a rollercoaster season, Milan’s two wins in a competitive Champions League group, coupled with their third-place Serie A standing, positions Stefano Pioli’s side as contenders. With an attacking trio comprising Rafael Leao, Olivier Girod, and Christian Pulisic, Milan ranks fifth in chances created in the Champions League. However, they must translate potential into results, having struggled to convert chances into goals during the campaign.

Galatasaray: Featuring a star-studded lineup including Mauro Icardi and Wilfried Zaha, Galatasaray showcases a knack for scoring with ten goals in the Champions League group stage. Despite conceding frequently, they promise entertainment and could fare better in the Europa League against tough but slightly less formidable opponents compared to the Champions League.

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