Liverpool and their Premier League counterparts West Ham United and Brighton can all book their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League this Thursday with a round of group games, while struggling Ajax face elimination from the organization.
The Anfield side could have already booked their place in the next round earlier this month but succumbed to a 3-2 defeat by Toulouse amid a euphoric atmosphere in France, albeit only after a last-minute equalizer saw them eliminated by VAR. .
That win was understandably celebrated by Toulouse and their supporters as one of their best ever results, but it should have been seen as nothing more than a minor setback for Jurgen Klopp and his team.
Having won their previous three Group E outings despite huge line-up changes each time, Liverpool need to avoid defeat at home to Austria’s LASK to secure progress ahead of their final away game against Union Saint- Gilloise in Belgium next month. .
Indeed, they will qualify regardless provided the Belgians don’t win in Toulouse at the same time, but there is also a chance the Reds can top the group – which would ensure they go straight through to the last 16 rather than having to go through an extra round of the play-offs.
While Liverpool sit just two points off the top of the Premier League, LASK are third in the Austrian Bundesliga, five points behind leaders Red Bull Salzburg.
Their biggest threat is likely to come from scoring midfielder and captain Robert Zulj, but it would be a huge shock if they take anything from their trip to England.
West Ham are in a similar position to Liverpool, knowing that a win this midweek will see them out of Group A, but that they could qualify regardless of whether results go well.
The Hammers will be in northern Serbia to face TSC Backa Topola, a side they beat 3-1 in London in September, but who have just earned a remarkable 4-0 away win at league leaders Partizan Belgrade.
David Moyes’ side are joint top of their group with Freiburg and will go all the way to the knockout stage if the Germans avoid defeat at home to Olympiakos.
Brighton and Hove Albion will extend their first European adventure into the new year if they beat AEK away in Group B, which would be a measure of revenge after losing 3-2 when the two sides met in England in September .
Roberto De Gerbi’s side looked the other way when they drew 2-2 in Marseille but have since beaten Ajax twice to reach the next round.
Defeated Europa League finalists in 2022, Rangers have a chance to qualify this Thursday if they beat Cyprus’ Aris Limassol at home in Group C.
Rangers have an impressive home record in the Europa League, winning seven and drawing one of their last eight games in the competition.
They did lose 2-1 away to Aris in October, but that was before Philippe Clement was appointed as manager, since then they have been unbeaten.
“It’s a massive game at Ibrox on Thursday where we need to get three points to put us in a good position in the group and that’s our main focus now,” captain James Tavernier said after Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Aberdeen .
Marseille and last season’s runners-up Roma can also qualify, but Ajax must beat the French club away from home to keep their chances alive.
It has been a torrid season so far for the Dutch giants, although they are reviving domestically, with three wins and a draw in their last four games since John van’t Schip took over.
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