A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday:
Last season, Real Madrid. This season, Manchester United? Sheriff Tiraspol gets a shot at another of Europe’s storied clubs when United travels to Moldova in the second round of Europa League group games. Sheriff famously announced itself on the continental stage by beating Madrid in the Champions League last year, though it didn’t go on to advance from its group. Then, it was playing at the tiny Sheriff Stadium in its breakaway home region of Transnistria that borders Ukraine but UEFA has blocked Sheriff from playing there this season following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. United will, instead, travel to the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, in the center of the country for a game being held at the Zimbru Stadium. The pressure is on United, which lost its opening group game at home to Real Sociedad, 1-0. Arsenal is the other big team in the Europa League but will not play in the second matchday after its home game against PSV Eindhoven was postponed because of the limited police resources available after the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Jose Mourinho’s Roma will look to bounce back from a surprising loss to Bulgarian team Ludogorets last week when it hosts HJK Helsinki.
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
The 16 games are spread around 15 nations hosting in the group stage in a competition designed to include more places typically left out of the Champions League action. Only Romania stages two Europa Conference League games Thursday with FCSB hosting Anderlecht and Cluj at home to Sivasspor. Lithuania and Latvia are also represented with, respectively, Zalgiris hosting Basel and RFS at home to Hearts. The first team from Kosovo to reach a UEFA competition group stage, Ballkani, is at Slavia Prague, whose stadium will host the final in May. Villarreal and West Ham are both on the road, at Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Silkeborg, respectively.
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