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Europa League Fixture Schedule

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Here is our fixture schedule for the Europa League:

Thu 17/9/2009: Villarreal-Levski Sofía (21.05 horas)
Thu 1/10/2009: Salzburgo-Villarreal (19.00 horas)
Thu 22/10/2009: Lazio-Villarreal (19.00 horas)
Thu 5/11/2009: Villarreal-Lazio (21.05 horas)
Wed 2/12/2009: Levski-Villarreal (19.00 horas)
Thu 17/12/2009: Villarreal-Salzburgo (21.05 horas)

Note there are now 2 time slots for games: why haven't you figured this out yet, Champions League? Our home games all are in the later slot, away games all earlier (and further east on the continent). Looks like Valencia is at home when we are away and vice versa, so our games should be on La Sexta throughout the country. Nice exposure. There are also special Europa League weeks (independent of the CL), so the group stage will be completed in calendar year 2009.

I like the way that the fixtures shape up. Get the 3 points at home and get the 3 points at the easiest away venue (in Austria), then go into the Lazio matches with little to lose. 10 (of 18) points should be enough to get through.

Something else to note: the 12 group winners and top 4 3rd-place teams dropping down from the CL will be seeded for the round of 32. It used to be group winner vs. 3rd-place finisher in the UEFA Cup; we drew a very unlucky opponent when we topped our group 2 years ago and had to play Zenit St. Petersburg, the eventual champions (who have crashed out this year). Now we could draw a fellow Europa League team or Champions League 3rd-place team, even if you win your group. And considering how strong some of the CL groups look, I'm not sure which I'd prefer. Basically I'm focused on getting through in whatever way possible; I don't think seeding for the knockout rounds will have as much of an impact this year.