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European Football Awaits

On August 26th, Southampton will find out who will be in their group for the Europa League.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Through all the meltdown nonsense, you may have forgotten that Southampton Football Club are indeed playing in the Europa League this year. Most teams and fans from England usually cannot be bothered. But for Saints, this is another step in showing how far the club has come, all by using its philosophies and principles.

HOW IT WORKS

48 teams are split into four seeding pots based on club coefficients. Every group will have one team from each pot, or tier if you will. The group stage draw consists of 22 play-off winners, 10 teams from the Champions League play-off who lost their matches, and the 16 clubs, including Southampton, who enter the competition at this point, which makes up 48 sides.

No club can play another club from their own association in the group stage.

WHEN ARE THE MATCHES?

Southampton will play six extra fixtures this year, on top of the already challenging Premier League fixtures, and league cup fixtures.

The Europa League matches consist of two matches in September, the 15th and 29th. One match in October on the 20th. Two matches in November, one on the 3rd and one on the 24th. Finally, the Europa League group stage ends with a final match on the 8th of December.

  • September 15th
  • September 29th
  • October 20th
  • November 3rd
  • November 24th
  • December 8th

The Europa League isn't too complicated. From there, in the round of 32, the group winners and the four best third-place Champions League teams will be seeded and put into one pot. In the other pot, the second-place finishers in Europa League and the rest of the Champions League third-place teams are placed where one team will be picked from each of the two pots to complete a fixture.

WHO'S IN?

Only 16 teams, including Southampton, are confirmed to be in the Europa League group stage. Playoffs for both the Champions League and Europa League are happening now, and that's where the other sides come from. Right now, the only two English clubs are Southampton and Manchester United. West Ham could join if they win their playoff match.

The likes of Zenit, Athletic Bilbao, Schalke, Feyenoord, and Inter are in the group stage right now, setting up some very interesting possibilities in our group stage draw.

While you are drawn to the drama, and faux meltdown of Southampton, remember that the Europa League is near, and be excited, because Saints can certainly make some noise.