Europa Conference League Matchday 6: What’s at stake?

The official Europa Conference League matchball (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
The official Europa Conference League matchball (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images) /
West Ham is the only team in the Europa Conference League to have a perfect record through five games. Can they make it six at home to FCSB? (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
West Ham is the only team in the Europa Conference League to have a perfect record through five games. Can they make it six at home to FCSB? (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images) /

Final round of Europa Conference League promises to be thrilling

A nerve-wracking Thursday of Europa Conference League play is on tap as the competition reaches the final group-stage matches.

Eight teams have snapped up a place in the knockout stages, with three clinching top spot. Another 15 teams still entertain hopes of nabbing one of the final knockout-round berths. A further nine sides know their European journey ends on Thursday night with no hopes of progressing.

Here is a look at who could still qualify, and who could finish first and second. Plus, a detailed preview covering the scenarios necessary to teams to clinch certain positions in their group.

The Matchday 1 preview provides the format of the group stage and what happens after this round.

Very early kickoffs (16:30 CET)

Group A

RFS (2 points) vs Fiorentina (10)
Istanbul Basaksehir (10) vs Hearts (6)

We already know the top two sides from this section: Fiorentina and Basaksehir secured invitations to the knockout stage last week. The only thing left is who will win the group and advance directly at the last 16.

La Viola heads to Latvia to take on the recently beaten cup finalists RFS. The only way for Vicenzo Italiano’s men to win the group is by winning more points than Basaksehir, who hosts Hearts at the same time. The Turkish side won the head-to-head on goal difference (4 to 2), meaning they just have to match Fiorentina’s result in order to finish ahead of them.

Early kickoffs (18:45 CET)

Group E

AZ Alkmaar (12) vs Dnipro-1 (10)
Apollon Limassol (4) vs Vaduz (2)

Here again, the top two is already confirmed but the group-winner has yet to be determined. The tie between AZ and Dnipro-1 will decide it, with the Dutch side needing just a point to end this stage on top. Dnipro must win to snatch first place.

The other game sees Apollon Limassol and Vaduz square off for third place. While both sides are eliminated, this is a big chance to collect some important coefficient points for their respective countries.

Group F

Djurgården (13) vs Shamrock Rovers (2)
AA Gent (5) vs Molde (7)

The first game has no impact on the group as Djurgården will finish on top. Shamrock is already doomed for last place and elimination.

Gent hosts Molde in the game that does matter here. The Belgians need to defeat their Norwegian guests in order to pass them and enter the knockout playoffs in the tournament. Any other result will see Molde join their Scandinavian counterparts in the knockout stages.

Group G

CFR Cluj (7) vs Ballkani (4)
Slavia Praha (7) vs Sivasspor (10)

The interesting thing here is the two different scenarios where three teams end up level on points. Neither scenario would benefit Slavia, who will need help in the end. The Czech side must better CFR Cluj’s result in order to progress. They will win the group if they defeat Sivasspor and Cluj does not do the same versus Ballkani. A draw will be enough for second place if Cluj suffer defeat.

Sivasspor is already in the knockout phase and just needs to avoid a defeat to win the group. If they lose and Cluj win, the Turkish cup winners will still top the section via a three-way head-to-head. Ballkani, on the other hand, cannot progress even if they finish level on points with Slavia and Cluj. In that case, it would be the Romanians who take second spot on head-to-head among the three. CFR Cluj cannot win the group, but will finish second with a win or by matching Slavia’s result. They would only be eliminated if Slavia earns more points than them.

Group H

Žalgiris (5) vs Slovan Bratislava (8)
Pyunik (6) vs FC Basel (8)

This is the only group where all four teams still have a shot at moving on. Keeping that in mind, this is easily the most interesting group left.

Žalgiris can only go through by winning their match. If they do so and Basel avoids defeat, then both teams will progress. Failing to win eliminates Žalgiris. There is a bigger catch. If Pyunik wins the other game, then Žalgiris will have to defeat Slovan by two or more goals to progress. In this case, both clubs along with Basel would be tied on 8 points. Slovan would go through on head-to-head goal difference if they lost by one. If Žalgiris wins by two or more goals and Pyunik also wins, then the Lithuanians go through with the Armenian champs.

Slovan Bratislava will go through with a point but if Pyunik wins, the Slovaks finish second. However, the Slovak champs top the group with a win. They will also win the group if both games end level.

Basel will go through with a win, and will top the group if they prevail and Slovan falters against Žalgiris. For Pyunik, they will go through with a win and will top the group if they win and Slovan does not.

Late kickoffs (21:00 CET)

Group B

West Ham (15) vs FCSB (2)
Silkeborg (6) vs RSC Anderlecht (5)

West Ham will face FCSB with the aim of going six for six in this season’s Conference League group stage. The Irons have already wrapped up the group, and are the only team left that can get a perfect record. Their opponents FCSB cannot go through and are basically assured a last-place finish due to goal difference.

Silkeborg welcomes Anderlecht to Denmark needing just a point to join West Ham in the knockouts. That leaves the Belgian side requiring a victory to go through. A Fabio Silva penalty on the first matchday separated proceedings between the two. Only time will tell to see whether history will repeat itself.

Group C

Lech Poznan (6) vs Villarreal (13)
Hapoel Be’er Sheva (4) vs Austria Wien (2)

Villarreal has already won the group and can rest their players in Poland. There, the Yellow Submarine will face a Lech Poznan team looking to join them in the next round. That will happen if the Polish champions win the match, and/or if Hapoel Be’er Sheva does not defeat Austria Wien. A draw could be enough for John van den Brom’s men, so long as HBS’ win does not turn the goal difference in their favour (Lech currently holds that advantage +2 to -1).

The Israeli cup winners Hapoel Be’er Sheva plays host to the eliminated Austria Wien. The Austrians can still pass their opponents by winning, eliminating them in the process. Hapoel Be’er Sheva must win and hope Lech Poznan lose to go through. Should the Poles draw, then HBS will have to win by at least four goals to join Villarreal in the knockout round.

Group D

Köln (7) vs Nice (8)
Partizan Belgrade (8) vs Slovacko (4)

We end with Group D, where three of the teams can still move on. Slovacko will finish bottom, even though they can still end up level on points with Köln, who owns the head-to-head.

Under any scenario where Partizan and Nice finish level on points, the French club will end up ahead courtesy of the head-to-head. That will happen if both teams win, draw or lose. Should Köln and Partizan finish level (a Köln draw and a Partizan defeat), then the Serbs will go through as they won both matches between the two.

That means Köln must win to go through. Any other result will see them finish third and fall out of the Conference League. If they win and Partizan do not, the group is theirs.

Partizan is through so long as they avoid defeat. They must win and hope that Nice do not in order to win the group. Otherwise, it will be second for them.

Next. Europa League Matchday 6 preview. dark

Nice will progress if Partizan loses and/or if they avoid defeat in Germany. Les Aiglons will win the section with a win or with a point should Partizan not defeat Slovacko.