Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Liverpool, so we're out of the Champions League but there's always Europa

What is the Europa League? The Europa League is Europe's second club competition and was previously known as the UEFA Cup before its rebranding in the summer.

Haven't we been here before? Yes. It's a tournament Liverpool have enjoyed great success in over the years, most recently in 2001 when a dramatic 5-4 victory over Alaves in Dortmund brought the trophy to Anfield for the third time.

Our other previous triumphs in the competition came in 1973 and 1976.

The three successes put us joint-level with Juventus and Inter Milan for most number of titles.

The last time we played in this competition was 2003-04 - the season Rafa Benitez's Valencia won the trophy.

At what stage will we enter the competition? The Reds, along with the seven other third placed teams in the Champions League group stage, will be entered into the draw for the Round of 32, which will take place on Friday, December 18.


The draw for the following round will also be made on this date.

How does the format of the competition differ from the Champions League? It doesn't, although there is an extra round played in the knockout stages of the Europa League. Ties will be played over two legs, with the away goals rule in place, until the final.

Who could we be paired with in the draw? Like the Champions League, there are still matches to be played in the group stage of the Europa League, so the names of the 32 teams who will be entered into the draw is yet to be finalised.

However, of the teams currently in the competition, Liverpool could potentially face Ajax, Anderlecht, Valencia, Hamburg, Sporting Lisbon, Roma, Galatasaray, Villarreal, Fenerbahce, Benfica, PSV Eindhoven and Werder Bremen.

Holders Shakhtar Donetsk will be in the last 32, while local rivals Everton could also be in the mix.

Some of the Champions League teams who could drop into the Europa League include Bayern Munich, Marseille, Stuttgart and Atletico Madrid.

Will we be seeded for the draw? As Liverpool are likely to have one of the better records of the teams dropping out of the Champions League, particularly if we beat Fiorentina, it's probable the Reds will be seeded.

The draw for the last 32 sees the 12 Europa League group winners, and the four best third placed teams in the Champions League group stage, drawn against the Europa League group runners-up and the remaining third-ranked sides from the Champions League group phase.

Seeded teams will be drawn at home in the second leg.

When do matches take place? Matches are usually played on Thursday evenings.

What are the match dates?

Round of 32

18 February 2010

25 February 2010

Round of 16

11 March 2010

18 March 2010


01 April 2010

08 April 2010


22 April 2010

29 April 2010


12 May 2010

Where will the final be played? The 2009-10 Europa League final will be played in Hamburg at the HSH Nordbank Arena, which has a capacity in excess of 57,000.

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