It’s Thursday and the nights are drawing in, which can only mean one thing — the UEFA Europa League group stage is back! For England, it’s Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves flying the flag, with each of three having made at least one final appearance since this competition began as the UEFA Cup in 1971.
There are a whopping 48 clubs all playing for a place in the final, which takes place in Poland at the 41,620-seater Stadion Energa in Gdańsk on 27th May 2020.
In terms of Premier League clubs, both Arsenal and Manchester United are top seeds in their groups, while Wolves face a trickier task alongside Beşiktaş, Braga and Slovan Bratislava.
Matchday five is very much the business end of the Europa League group stage and that's certainly the case for the under-fire Unai Emery. He'll be looking to end Arsenal's six-game winless run when they take on Eintracht Frankfurt at the Emirates. Although a draw would be enough to take the Gunners through to the knock-outs, the Spaniard will need a win for some hope of hanging onto his job.
After a tricky start, Wolves have torn their way through the groups with three victories on the bounce. They face first-placed Braga, who best the West Midlanders by a point, but A Pedreira is a tough hunting ground. Expect their crucial fixture to be the final game at home to pointless Beşiktaş instead.
Manchester United are already home and hosed after their 3-0 tonking of Partizan Belgrade at Old Trafford. They'll win Group L outright on matchday 5 if they can beat AZ Alkmaar's result when United make the epic, air mile-gathering adventure to the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan - the recently rebranded name for Astana. (Watch out for the 15.50 kick-off). Whatever their moniker, the side from the steppes still have no points so far. Partizan's game in Denmark might be the one to watch instead.
Life's good for Celtic in Group E with their papers already stamped for the knock-out stage. A nice, tidy home tie against bottom side Rennes puts the pressure on Cluj to get something good away at Lazio, if the Romanians harbour hopes of topping the group.
As predicted, it's all still very much up for grabs in the fascinating group of death that is Group G. Although Rangers are looking good on 7 points, even fourth-placed Porto can still qualify. If there are any easy games in continental football, then you won't find them in this group. Gerrard's men roll the dice once more as they take on feisty Feyenoord away. Let's hope the news on that game stays on the back pages.
There are no new rules for the group stage apart from the fact that VAR is in use throughout the competition. Should two teams be tied on points by the end of the group games, then they are separated according to the following criteria:
- Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams
- Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams
- Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams
- Away goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams
- Goal difference in all group matches
- Goals scored in all group matches
- Wins in all group matches
- Away wins in all group matches
- Disciplinary points
- UEFA club coefficient
Watch Europa League football anywhere in the world using a VPN
We'll look at the TV and live stream options for UK and USA-based Europa League fans below, but even after spending all that money on a TV sports subscription you're still not going to be able to watch the football from another country.
There are certain territories where the Europa League football is free to watch (you can find a full list of the free Europa League broadcasters here, along with the pay channels too). So, if you're away in one of these places, you may just need to tune in on your hotel TV or find a local bar.
Anywhere else and you'll want to get yourself a VPN instead. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can spoof an IP address which is local to the server you’d like to access. That way your service provider will think you’re in the correct country to do so and allow you to watch the Europa League on your subscription as if you were back home.
VPNs are also as useful for banking as they are at trying to watch video content or accessing websites people in your location are not supposed to do. They encrypt the data passing between you and the server, so that the information remains private.
So, whether you want to watch live football, enjoy another country’s Netflix library or just keep your browsing data private, then a VPN is well worth considering.
There are many VPN providers out there, with some more reliable and safe than others. As a rule, we’d suggest a paid-for service and would recommend the following:
You can get three months free when you sign up to a year-long plan, bringing VPN access to smart devices including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, laptops, TVs and both Android and iOS mobiles and tablets. Express also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Which comes in at as little as $2.99 (£2.29) per month and features 24/7 assistance
Once you’ve made your choice, all you need to do is sign in to your VPN service through whichever device you’d like to use to watch the match. When prompted to select a server, you need to pick one which is based in the country whose content you’d like to access. Then navigate to the relevant video streaming app or website and you’re in.
You can find a full list of the world's broadcasters with rights to show live the Europa League football here.
Watch the Europa League live the UK
Rights to show the UEFA Europa League in the UK belong to BT Sport, whose long-term deal to broadcast all matches from UEFA club competitions means you'll also be able to enjoy the Champions League. BT Sport also has the Bundesliga, which makes a subscription this season a very decent offer.
Upgrading to all four BT Sport channels is no big deal if you’re already a BT TV customer and it’s even better if you’re on BT Broadband too. The former group can add the package for £10 per month, while it’s only £6 per month for the latter.View Deal
New BT broadband and BT TV customers will gain access to the coverage free of charge, while it costs £10 each month for existing customers. Sky TV users can also add BT Sport to their existing package from £25 a month, but that will not include any 4K viewing.
Lucky Virgin Media customers can enjoy the Ultra HD action, however. For prices and details, see the 4K section below.
Sky TV customers who use BT Broadband can add BT Sport for just £15 per month and get full access to the Europa League and all the other BT Sports in HD across four channels. A BT Sports app-only upgrade is £10 per month. For Sky broadband customers it’s £25 per month with a rolling contract option.View Deal
However you subscribe to BT Sport, you will get access to streams via the BT website and BT Sport app. That means you can watch games on the move within the UK or from abroad, using a VPN.
Watch the Europa League live in 4K
BT Sport comes in 4K if you’re hooked up to the BT Sport Ultra HD channel, but you’ll need to be a BT TV and BT Super Fast Fibre broadband user to get it. Ultra HD is not available on the Sky TV platform.
The situation is better for Virgin Media customers, though. You can enjoy all five BT Sports channels including BT Sport Ultra HD on channel 555.
Sign up to this pack and you’ll get everything BT has to offer. There’s the 4K-enabled box with 300 hours of recording space, 55 premium HD channels and 4K sports access too. The price includes line rental and it comes with a £80 gift card too. Not bad.View Deal
The BT Sport Collection on Virgin Media is a £18 bolt-on, at the time of writing. It brings coverage of football, rugby, cricket, UFC and more, plus access to BT Sport Ultra HD for 4K viewing. You can cancel the subscription at any time.View Deal
For 4K sports on BT TV, it’s a case of upgrading or purchasing the Max 4K package, which will cost you £20 a month to add to an existing BT subscription, or £54.99 for the full shebang if you’re a new customer starting from scratch.
Those on Virgin Media will need the Virgin V6 box and a 4K TV to make sure they're getting the action at maximum resolution. With the basic Big Bundle, BT Sport is £18 per month but all five BT Sport channels, including Ultra HD, are included on the larger TV packages which start at £57 per month. More details on Virgin Media TV bundles.
Watch the Europa League live the USA
UEFA Europa League fans in the States are lucky enough to be able to watch some of the European football action free on Spanish language network Univision. The rest, you’ll have to pay for and the rights are shared out between Univision Deportes Network and Turner Sports.
Take a look at the schedules on their website to work how to follow your favourite team, and don’t forget to use a VPN if you’re watching from abroad.
Europa League fixtures
The games come thick and fast in the group stage, what with 48 teams involved from 26 national associations. Alongside Arsenal, Celtic, Manchester United, Rangers and Wolves, some of the other interesting teams to look out for include Sevilla, Basel, PSV, Porto, Roma and Lazio along with many more.
Here is our pick of the upcoming fixtures for the next couple of matchdays:
Matchday 5 (28th November)
Astana vs Manchester United, 3.50 GMT
Braga vs Wolves, 5.55pm GMT
Feyenoord vs Rangers, 5.55pm GMT
Wolfsberg vs Borussia Monchengladbach, 5.55pm GMT
Celtic vs Rennes, 8pm GMT
Arsenal vs Eintracht Frankfurt, 8pm GMT
Sporting vs PSV, 8pm GMT
Matchday 6 (12th December)
CFR Cluj vs Celtic, 5.55pm GMT
Standard Liege vs Arsenal, 5.55pm GMT
Rangers vs Young Boys, 8pm GMT
Wolves vs Besiktas, 8pm GMT
Manchester United vs AZ Alkmaar, 8pm GMT
Wolfsburg vs St. Etienne, 8pm GMT
Porto vs Feyenoord, 8pm GMT