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. Both Arsenal and Manchester United are top seeds in their groups, while Wolves face a trickier task alongside Beşiktaş, Braga and Slovan Bratislava.
It’s a battle for the top spot of Group F on matchday 2 as the Gunners host fellow first gamer winners, Standard Liege. History is on Arsenal’s side and Liege will be hoping they can avoid the 7-0 drubbing of their 93/94 Cup Winners’ Cup forefathers.
United are sitting pretty in first place of Group L (yes, there really are that many groups). They’re off on a ferry to the Netherlands where they take on AZ Alkmaar for the very first time in their respective histories. So, the form book isn’t so much out of the window as completely non-existent – until tonight!
Struggling Wolves head to Turkey to face Beşiktaş’s notoriously boisterous home fans. Beşiktaş themselves shipped four in their first game, so there is hope for the Wanderers.
Of course, don’t forget to keep a look out for the football from north of the border too. Rangers are laughing in the face of their group of death. After a stonking start against Feyenoord, can they school the Young Boys of Berne? And Celtic take on surprise Group E leaders CFR Cluj after the Romanian’s took three points off Lazio. Intriguing stuff.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
3/10 – Celtic vs CFR Cluj, 5.55pm BST
3/10 – Feyenoord vs Porto, 5.55pm BST
3/10 – Young Boys vs Rangers, 5.55pm BST
3/10 – Saint-Étienne vs Wolfsburg, 5.55pm BST
3/10 – AZ Alkmaar vs Manchester United, 5.55pm, BST
3/10 – Beşiktaş vs Wolves, 5.55pm BST
3/10 – Arsenal vs Standard Liège, 8pm BST
24/10 – Partizan Belgrade vs Manchester United, 5.55pm BST
24/10 – Slovan Bratislava vs Wolves, 5.55pm BST
24/10 – Porto vs Rangers, 5.55pm BST
24/10 – Celtic vs Lazio, 8.00pm BST
24/10 – Arsenal vs Vitoria SC, 8.00pm BST