Europa League Teams Preview
In the wrestling world – the WWF – there is a championship belt called the Intercontinental title, it’s been deemed the secondary title in the company. Throughout history although viewed as a secondary title, it was also known as “the workers title”, in other words for all the steroid infused more-style-than-substance Heavyweight title holders, there was the more skilled, talented and respected Intercontinental title.
You may ask why I mention Wrestling at the start of this Preview..? Well, more and more as the Champions League sees teams paying sillier and sillier money for players just to merely compete, it all seems a bit artificial and hard to relate to.
Could we now see a change in ideas for the Europa league? Could it be the Intercontinental title of football?
The Europa league has more teams from all across Europe, not just lots of clubs from “the big five” leagues, who are funded by all manner of Countries, Oligarchs or Arabs. Today we saw 48 teams drawn across 12 groups, nations from all over Europe including the obvious nations but also others such as Belarus, Israel, Norway and Azerbaijan.
Arsenal were drawn against Bate Borisov of Belarus, Red Star Belgrade of Serbia and obvious group rivals Cologne of Germany. You’d think Arsenal would have no trouble qualifying from this group but lets have a closer look at the teams in this article.
Bate Borisov Sept 28th (A) Dec 7th (H)
The main threat from Bate will come from left winger Mikhail Gordejchuk who has scored 15 goals, created 7 assists in just 32 games this year. Experienced striker Vitali Rodionov is the next goal threat for Borisov but he only managed 6 goals in 22 so you’d hope our defence should cope with him. Bate manager Aleksandr Yermakovic bases the team on a strong defence with two towering centre backs in Nemanja Milunovic and Jurica Buljat.
Cologne (FC Koln) Sept 14th (H) Nov 23rd (A)
Boasting one of Europe’s top up and coming coaches in Peter Stoger, FC Koln will be Arsenal’s toughest opponents in the group. The German side are without top scorer Anthony Modeste who signed for big money in China but they have made some great signings this summer. Colombian striker Jhon Cordoba joined for a club record fee and will be hoping to fill the void left by Modeste.
Surprise signing Spanish centre back, Jorge Meré is viewed by many in the game as a wonderkid and definitely a coup for Koln. The team on a whole is based on solid hard work and a fine group of defensive players like Jonas Hector, Frederik Sorensen and Timo Horn. Creativity comes in the form of the mercurial Leonardo Bittencourt who on his day is a match for any team in this competition.
Red Star Belgrade Oct 19th (A) Nov 2nd (H)
Former Liverpool striker Anthony Le Tallac’s brother Damien now stars for Red Star, he’s played all over the midfield and now settling at centre back he will be an interesting figure for our strike force to deal with. Top scorer Richmond Boakye is a former wonderkid of Juventus, but after a few years of being loaned out to clubs in Italy and Spain he seems to have found his feet here and will be a threat in the air and on the ground due to his pace and physical presence.
Playing in a 4 1 4 1 or 4 3 3 formation Red star are well organised and full of energy. Creativity and flair in abundance comes in the form of Guelor Kanga who’s already got 2 assists and 2 goals in this competition.
I got into football as a kid watching Italian football in the afternoons and ever since I’ve been hooked on tactics and the continental side of the game. I’ve written about Italian football in the past among other things but now it’s time to write about, the embodiment of how I see the beautiful game, Arsenal. Hopefully writing things and opinions about the game you haven’t seen before, I like a bit of a joke too.