|Can Manchester United win the Europa League again? (Image Source: 90min)|
As we get ready for the next round of European football, something is different this time. For one, this is probably the first time that the knockout rounds will be played in August. The semi-finals draw also took place today so Manchester United’s potential path to the final is also decided. The draw took place in an empty room that would usually seat the delegates of the respective clubs as we adjust to what is termed as the new normal. As the delegates looked on from their laptops, Manchester United were drawn up against the winner of the Istanbul Basakshehir and FC Copenhagen. Since the format has changed this season, there is a lot of discrepancies and confusion. We will take a look at the new format and Manchester United’s potential road to the final!
Manchester United’s ball was the third one to be picked up in the draw and we were drawn to play the winners of Istanbul Basakshehir and FC Copenhagen. Basakshehir are currently leading 1-0 from their first leg and will travel to Copenhagen on the 5th of August. On the same day, Manchester United host LASK after beating them 5-0 in the first leg which has basically given us 5 away goals. The semi-final draws have also taken place and the winner of quarters 4 take on winners of quarters 2 while winners of quarters 3 take on winners of quarters 1.
This means that the winner of the quarter-finals between Manchester United and Basakshehir/Copenhagen will face the winner of Wolves/Olympiakos vs Roma/Sevilla. These semi-finals will take place on the 16th or 17th of August. The finals will then take place on the 21st of August.
The New Format:
Due to the pandemic, we’re in, the format of the tournament has been altered to finish it up early and before the next season begins. The Europa League games will start about 10 days after the Premier League season ends and the first game will be our second leg at home to LASK. This season, we won’t have two legs for the knockout games and they will be played on neutral grounds.
While the Champions League will be taking place in Portugal, the Europa League games will be played in 4 venues in Germany, namely – Dusseldorf, Duisburg, Cologne and Gelsenkirchen. The Europa League finals will take place in the Rhein Energie Stadion in Cologne.
This format ensures that should Manchester United reach the finals, which is just two wins away, our potential opponents for the finals could be – Shaktar Donetsk, Eintracht Frankfurt, Basel, Wolfsburg, Getafe, Inter, Bayer Leverkusen, Rangers. These are some really strong opponents so United are in a way lucky to avoid these teams in the quarters and semis. A lot of the teams will Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Frankfurt are through with their domestic season and have a lot of time to concentrate on the knockout rounds. But with Manchester United’s current run of form and a potential FA Cup may be all the team need to win 3 more games and grab a second Europa League in 4 years. By the time the Europa League begins, we will already know if we have qualified for the Champions League through the top 4 spots and maybe Manchester City’s UEFA ban but I feel we should go all out for both trophies and end this season on a high.