2018-19 Europa League: Matchday One

With the opening round of Champions League group games done, attention now turns to the Europa League with four British teams in action. 

Chelsea face a tough away trip for their opening match whilst Arsenal, now under the Europa League experienced management of Unai Emery will be hoping to avoid a shock cupset at home as both commence their European title bids. 

Celtic and Rangers meanwhile came through qualifying but must get off to a flier as both have difficult groups to escape from. 

Group G (5:55pm)

Rapid Vienna vs Spartak Moscow

Villareal vs Rangers

For Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. this is a really tough group so they need to hit ground running instantly.

Villareal meanwhile have a decent European record in recent years and have escaped this stage in last four seasons, making them tough opposition to beat here.

The Gers however can take heart from beating Maribor in third qualifying round but I doubt it will be enough here to overcome this strong Spanish side. 

Over in Vienna, Spartak know that defeat will finish off a miserable week of European football for Moscow sides so am backing them to take victory here. 


Villareal 2-1 Rangers

Rapid Vienna 0-2 Spartak Moscow


Group L (5:55pm)

MOL Vidi vs BATE Borisov

PAOK Salonika vs Chelsea

Chelsea have made a strong domestic start to the season but no English team has mounted title bids on both domestic and European fronts. 

How Maurizio Sarri approaches this match therefore will provide a clear sign of which competition he favours as their best hope of a trophy, although leaving Eden Hazard at home is probably a fair indication already. 

PAOK meanwhile have had a massive summer of transfer activity so this will be their first proper test this season against a top side.

BATE Borisov meanwhile should see off Mol Vidi with their stronger experience but the Hungarian side were tough to beat at home when they last reached this stage in 2012-13.

Realistically, I can see away wins in this group because BATE and Chelsea have plenty of quality European experience between them.  


Mol Vidi 1-2 BATE Borisov 

PAOK Salonika 0-2 Chelsea


Group B (8:00pm)

Celtic vs Rosenborg

RB Leipzig vs Red Bull Salzburg

With both Red Bull clubs looking like tricky opposition, this is a match that Celtic must win if are to give themselves momentum throughout the rest of the group stage. 

Interestingly, Celtic met Rosenborg in this season’s Champions League Second qualifying round, winning 3-1 at home and eventually on aggregate after goalless away draw. 

The Norwegian side however are in much better form than Celtic have been since those meetings, so expect a much tighter match. 

As for the Red Bull derby between Leipzig and Salzburg, this should be a edgy match because Leipzig were inconsistent at this stage last season in the Champions League. 

This time around, they ought to be more used to international opposition so am going for a Leipzig win. 


Celtic 2-1 Rosenborg

RB Leipzig 1-0 Red Bull Salzburg


Group E (8:00pm)

Arsenal vs Vorskla Poltava 

Sporting Lisbon vs Qarabag

This should be easy wins for both home sides because I really cant see Vorskla Poltava or Qarabag mounting much of a challenge. 

Qarabag however surprised many with a 1-1 draw away at Atletico Madrid last season in the Champions League at this stage, so don’t rule them out of potentially grabbing a point here. 

Porto however have a talented squad with the likes of Iker Casillas and Hector Herrera and have scored at least twice in all of their domestic matches which is great confidence for them entering this match. 

As for Arsenal, they should be very strong despite rotating with Bernd Leno and Stephan Lichtsteiner set to start and easily beat Poltava. 


Arsenal 3-0 Vorskla Poltava

Porto 2-0 Qarabag


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