Since the final round of Champions’ League group stage fixtures, the teams who will definitely be exiting the competition in order to play in the Europa League in the second half of the season has been finalised.
Club Brugge, Benfica, Valencia, Galatasaray, Napoli, Shakhtar Donetsk and ViktoriaPlzeň have all secured their passage into the Europa League, which will be both a disappointment and an opportunity for the teams. Despite missing out on a place in the second round of the competition, it provides all these clubs with the chance to win some silverware in Europe this season.
Benfica, on the other hand, might fare slightly better when they enter the Europa League, with a far more impressive European pedigree. In a group that contained Bayern Munich, Ajax and AEK Athens, it is no surprise that Benfica finished in third place. The only alternative result likely to happen would have been second place, but Ajax, who are so far unbeaten in the Champions League this season, have proven their worth by securing qualification to the next round. With the likes of Eduardo Salvio and Pizziat their disposal, there is a chance that Benfica could mount a serious challenge in the hunt to become the next Europa League winner.
Valencia is another team that is eliminated from the Champions
In Group F, Ukrainian team Shakhtar Donetsk went through to the Europa League despite only winning one game. They had, in fact, won the Europa 10 years ago, and will be hopeful of a repeat this season. This group featured English Premier League club Manchester City, who are the favourites to be crowned the winner according to the ChampionsLeague winner odds.
Elsewhere, Italian teams Napoli and Inter Milan will also be competing in the Europa League. Both narrowly missed out on the next stage of the Champions League, being knocked out on away goals after failing to pick up the necessary result in their final group game. These two are arguably the strongest teams in the competition and will be considered as the favourites.
Turkish team Galatasaray and Czech Republic team Viktoria Plzeň are the final two teams who will