This is now a thing / Thursday Europa League Open Thread

A cup with no ears - Denis Doyle

Thursday night, Channel Five. Or ITV 4. Except that doesn't rhyme. Nothing makes sense anymore!

In my native language, the continent of Europe is called "Európa." It's also the name of a moon, as well as the seventh(!) largest asteroid ("52 Europa," according to Wikipedia) and a classic car once manufactured by Lotus but largely forgotten thanks to its follow-up, the Esprit.

Legit!

It's also the name of this continental waste of time called the Europa League. A cool competition back when it was called the "Cup Winner's Cup," it's now just a second-rate imitation of the Champions League. Of course, seeing as how beloved Chelsea have fallen into it, I suppose we should treat it with a bit more respect. So let's check out their version of Matchday 6, wherein something like 13456* matches will decide the 5123* groups in this competition's group stages.

* These numbers - careful approximations - were calculated after careful consideration of all available data gathered after months and months of grueling research and super-scientific thoughts.

To thumb their noses at the big bully Champions League, the trophy for this competition has NO ears. Legit! Take THAT, Big Ears!

All matches are played on the same day (legit!), the first batch kicking off at 10 A.M. PST, the second at 12:05 P.M. PST. The "05" lends an extra breath of legitimacy to the proceedings, to be sure.

Group A: Udinese are out; Anzhi are through; Liverpool or Young Boys will grab the second spot - there are a few permutations but I think Liverpool has the upper hand and will progress if they win at Udinese today.

Group B: Our friends at Atletico Madrid & current Gambrinus Liga leaders Viktoria Plzen have qualified already. Academica (of Portugal) and Hapoel Tel Aviv are out.

Group C: Raul Meireles, Miroslav Stoch, and their chums at Fenerbahce are through and will be joined by Borussia Monchengladbach who own the tiebreaker versus Marseille. AEL Limassol (home of ex-Chelsea trainee Kaby) are out.

Group D: Bordeaux and Newcastle United are through; Club Brugge and Maritimo are out.

Group E: Molde are out. Two of the following three will advance; I do not know nor care to know the permutations: Stuttgart, Steaua Bucharest, FC Copenhagen

Group F: Dnipro and Napoli (ohai Edinson Cavani & Marek Hamsik & any other such dreaminess) are through; AIK Stockholm and PSV are out.

Group G: Genk (remember these guys?) are through. Hungarian champions Videoton have a chance at second, if Genk beat Basel. Come on you Genks! Sporting CP are out.

Group H: Rubin Kazan and Inter Milan are through. That's two chances to draw an ex-team of the current Chelsea coach then. Partizan Belgrade and Neftchi Baku (huh?) are out.

Group I: Lyon and Sparta Prague are through; Athletic Bilbao and something called an Ironi Kiryat Shmona are out. How did you mess this one up, Athletic?

Group J: Lazio have qualified. AVB's Spurs will join them with a victory or a draw tonight. A loss for Tottenham Hotspur would see their opponents Panathinaikos advance. NK Maribor are out.

Group K: Metalist Kharkiv and Bayer Leverkusen are through; Rosenborg and Rapid Wien are out. Nice to see that they still play football, though badly, in Austria.

Group L: Hannover 96 and Levante are through; Steve McClaren's FC Twente (it's a constitutional requirement for anyone even remotely associated with English football to refer to this team as Steve McClaren's FC Twente) and Helsingborg are out.

Phew! Got it?

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