EL and ECL Knockout Stages Preview

The EL and ECL knockout rounds are here, and this is where the competition gets interesting. The group stages in these two competitions often fail to really ignite the fans interest but the latter stages can certainly provide some excellent match-ups.

The EL – who are favourites?

Amongst the teams that failed to make it through to these latter rounds are Panathinaikos, LASK and AEK Athens. British teams fared very well this year with West Ham, Brighton, Rangers and Liverpool all winning their respective groups.  

As is the way in recent years, the teams that made it through the group stages will be joined by the teams that finished third in the CL groups. This year there are some big teams joining in such as Galatasaray, Benfica and AC Milan.

The draw for the playoff rounds is as follows:

Feyenoord vs AS Roma

Galatasaray vs Sparta Prague

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Marseille

Young Boys vs Sporting

AC Milan vs Rennes

Benfica vs Toulouse

Braga vs Qarabag

Lens vs Freiburg

Once these are concluded, we move on to the 1/8 finals which will take place on the 7th and the 13th of March.      

As things stand, the favourites to win the competition are Liverpool. The vastly experienced English team had an excellent group stage and are performing very well in their domestic competitions too. They are really a CL team and it is unusual to see them competing here, but a poor season all round last year means that they find themselves in the second tier competition this time round. Jurgen Klopp would love to end his time as Liverpool manager with a European final and few would back against that happening. Next are Bayer Leverkusen, the Bundesliga leaders are also having an excellent season and they are followed by another hugely successful European giant, AC Milan. Two English teams come next with Brighton and West Ham the next most fancied teams to win. 

The final will be held in Dublin in the impressive Aviva Stadium on May 22nd.

The ECL – who are favourites?

The second placed teams in each group of the Conference League will play against the third placed team from the Europa League for the right to play in the 1/8 finals of the third tier European competition. There weren’t too many shocks in the opening rounds here but the likes of Besiktas, Genk and AZ Alkmaar all failed to make it through. Aston Villa will be looking to emulate West Ham’s success last season and they have made a good start by winning their section, which means they will avoid the upcoming playoff round. Here are some of the matches to be played on the 15th of February:

Olympiacos vs Ferencvaros

Royale Union vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Sturm Graz vs Slovan Bratislava

Betis vs Dinamo Zagreb

Once these are concluded, the 1/8 finals will take place on the 7th and 14th of March.

Once again it is an English team who are favourites to win the competition, this season it is Aston Villa. They have had an excellent season overall so far, but their league form has dipped somewhat as they struggle to keep pace with the giants at the top of the PL. They will hope that their run in this competition will carry on as some silverware at the end of the season would be more than welcome. Fiorentina are second favourites to lift the trophy, followed by Eintracht Frankfurt and Real Betis, so there are certainly some experienced European teams in the mix.

The final for this competition will be held in Athens, in the AEK Arena on the 29th of May.   

Last Updated: 14.02.2024