The group stage of the UEFA Europa League is going to be upon us before long, but prior to the draw and all of the excitement that comes along with that, we’ve got to get through the playoff round. There are some big teams still set to compete for the right to progress into the next round of the competition, and two of them will square off this week and next in a fascinating two-legged affair.
As reported by BBC and Daily Express, those two teams will be Wolverhampton Wanderers and Torino. On one hand you’ve got the team that finished in seventh place in the Premier League last season, and on the other, you’ve got the team that finished in seventh place in Serie A.
Seventh vs seventh
That kind of dynamic is going to be fascinating to see play out especially when you consider the fact that both of them have already had to come through two gruelling rounds of action just to get to this point.
Torino have a reputation for spoiling the party in big games, and this certainly qualifies as a big game. Much like Wolves they’ll fancy their chances of doing well in the group stage and potentially even beyond if they can get through this two-legged tie, which both will see as a realistic goal.
The funny thing is that while there’s no clear favourite as to who will go through, both will be incredibly confident in winning the home leg. If they do then away goals could really factor into things, and as we’ve all seen before, the drama of away goals in European competition has both helped and hindered English teams in the past.
Elsewhere in Europe we’ll see Rangers taking on Legia Warsaw, in the kind of tie that many Gers fans will already be writing off as a loss. However, football experts in Poland seem to think that they’re being far too harsh on themselves, with Legia Warsaw not really being able to live up to the hype on the European stage in recent years.
A big ask
You never quite know what to expect from a Polish side in Europe, but with the first leg being away from home, we think Rangers have a great chance of nabbing an away goal to take back with them to Ibrox. Then, the atmosphere in Glasgow should help them take care of the rest.
Celtic’s hopes of keeping their European adventure alive this season rests with their games against AIK, but after the manner in which they fell out of the Champions League, they don’t have all too many reasons to be feeling confident heading into this one.
In terms of Wolves and Torino, though, we’re expecting to see two very physical games across this tie – with hopefully a few goals littered in there, too.
It’s going to be a tough ask for the Wanderers to get the win away from home, but Nuno Espirito Santo seems to be building something really special at Molineux.