The UEFA Europa League draw took place this morning (7:00 am Eastern Standard Time / 13:00 Central Eastern Time) with Lazio placing in Group H. In addition to the biancocelesti, Olympique de Marseille, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Apollon Limassol complete the Group in what will be a much more difficult challenge for the Eagles compared to last year.
Olympique de Marseille
Marseille are based in France (Ligue 1), in the top tier of French football. Founded 118 years ago, OM have won Ligue 1 nine times; the Coupes de France ten times; the Coupes de la Ligue three times; and the Champions League once – the only French side to do so. After an impressive performance in the UEFA Europa League last year (which saw them reach the final against Atletico Madrid), their goal of securing the trophy fell short as they lost by a score of 3-0 to the Spanish club. After dreams were shattered, you can expect Marseille to be entering the competition hungrier than ever; they are one of the clubs who has automatically qualified for the competition, similar to Lazio. Expect Marseille to be one of two challengers for the top position in the group. Below I will take a look at their Summer Transfer Market business.
- Kevin Strootman; 28 years old; Dutch; arrived from Roma for 25 Mill. €
- Duje Caleta-Car; 21 years old; Croatian; arrived from RB Salzburg for 19 Mill. €
- Jordan Amavi; 24 years old; French; arrived from Aston Villa for 10 Mill. €
- Nemanja Radonjic; 22 years old; Serbian; arrived from Red Star Belgrade for 10 Mill. €
- André Zambo Anguissa; 22 years old; Cameroonian, left for 24.85 Mill. €
- Rémy Cabella; 28 years old; French; left for 5 Mill. €
- Dória; 23 years old; Brazilian; left for 2 Mill. €
- Henri Bedimo; 34 years old; released by the club
PREDICTION: 1ST OR 2ND IN GROUP H
Eintracht are based in Germany (Bundesliga), in the top tier of German football. Founded 119 years ago, Die Adler have won the Bundesliga once; the DFB-Pokal five times; and the UEFA Cup once. Winners of the DfB-Pokal last year in a dramatic 3-1 victory over Bayern Munich, Frankfurt automatically qualified for the group stage of the 2018–19 edition of the UEFA Europa League. For a squad that managed an eighth-place finish in the Bundesliga, not only was it dramatic, it was quite surprising. A tough competitor without a doubt for Lazio and Marseille, the German club have lost some of the key pieces to their success last season, including Croatian coach Niko Kovač. Below, I will take a look at their Summer Transfer Market business.
- Carlos Salcedo; 24 years old; Mexican; arrived from Chivas for 5 Mill. €
- Evan N’Dicka; 18 years old; French-Cameroonian; arrived from AJ Auxerre for 5 Mill. €
- Lucas Torró; 23 years old; Spanish; arrived from Real Madrid for 3.50 Mill. €
- Goncalo Paciencia; 23 years old; Portuguese; arrived from FC Porto for 3 Mill. €
- Frederik Rönnow; 25 years old; Danish; arrived from Bröndby IF for 2.80 Mill. €
- Filip Kostic; 25 years old; Serbian; arrived on loan
- Kevin Trapp; 28 years old; German; arrived on loan
- Marius Wolf; 23 years old; German, left for 5 Mill. €
- Omar Mascarell; 25 years old; Spanish; left for 4 Mill. €
- Lukas Hradecky; 28 years old; Finnish-Slovakian; left on a free transfer
- Kevin-Prince Boateng; 31 years old; left on a free transfer
PREDICTION: 3RD IN GROUP H
Apollon are based in Cyprus (First Division), in the top tier of Cypriot football. Founded 64 years ago, the Theos have won the First Division title on three occasions; the Cypriot Cup nine times; and the Cypriot Super Cup three times. Their qualification for Europa League was quite a long and difficult one, as they had to face FC Stumbras (Lithuania) in the First Qualifying Round; FK Željezničar Sarajevo (Bosnia) in the Second Qualifying Round; and FC Basel in the Play-off Round. After a 1-0 win at home in the second leg, Apollon moved forward due to away goals, having scored two in their first match away in Switzerland (in a 3-2 loss). A club to not take lightly, Apollon have appeared in not only the Europa League before but also the Champions League.
- Facundo Pereyra; 30 years old; Argentinian; arrived on a free transfer
- Richard Soumah; 31 years old; Guinean-French; arrived on a free transfer
- Dylan Ouedraogo; 20 years old; Burkinabé-French; arrived on a free transfer
- Mustapha Carayol; 29 years old; Gambian-English; arrived on a free transfer
PREDICTION: 4TH IN GROUP H
With Lazio and Marseille’s squad depth and quality, I expect the Italian and French side to top the group in first and second place without a doubt. The issue, however, is who will finish first. This outcome of Lazio topping the group will depend on who plays in the Europa League – more specifically who will play in each match. I have a feeling that the biancocelesti will play their substitutes a lot in this competition, which may come back to haunt them if they are unable to find goals. In the two matches against Marseille, Lazio must come out at full force with a regular starting XI to secure victory if they want to finish in that number one spot in Group H.
The Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan will stage the final on May 29, 2019.
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