There are only 35 matches today in Europa League. Sorry, you'll just have to make do.
Depending on your level of soccer addiction, you see those two sentences as sarcastic (not addicted at all, I like soccer but don't feel the need to watch every match) or mocking (I'll remember Richard's taunts when I'm drinking coffee and Red Bull at the end of my sleep-for-soccer swap). Regardless, it's pretty insane that there are 35 matches today, and those aren't even all the Europa League playoff pairings. Two were played Tuesday (Aris and Besiktas jumped ahead of Austria Wien and HJK Helsinki, respectively).
But the truly insane part about all this? This is the competition's fourth round. At one point there were many more teams active in this competition. And that doesn't even consider the ten Champions League playoff losers who will join next week or the eight Champions League group stage third place finishers that will enter in the knockout rounds. In all, 178 clubs will participate in this year's Europa League.
Perhaps that's why you don't hear too much about these qualifying playoffs. We're all interested in what clubs like Liverpool, Juventus, Porto, Bayer Leverkusen and Villareal do, but this is a long process. We need to pace ourselves, particularly given the second legs aren't until next week.
These playoffs will help define the 48 teams which will make-up the 12, four-team groups of the Europa League. Thirty-seven teams will advance from these playoffs. They'll be joined by the ten clubs that fail to qualify for Champions League, a field that will be rounded-out by Atlético Madrid - last year's winner.
Very quickly, here are the 37 match-ups of the playoff round, ordered from "worst" (combined UEFA coefficient, for whatever that's worth) to "best."
Club hosting leg one listed first.
37. Gyori ETO (Hungary; 1.4) vs. Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia; 14.5) - This is a good start as far as obscure match-ups is concerned, but we can do better. Dinamo Zagreb sounds a bit familiar.
36. CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria; 15.4) vs. The New Saints (Wales; 0.8) - A little better, though CSKA Sofia also has a good ol' days, the Berlin Wall is still up, charm to it. The New Saints sounds like a team in the South African league.
35. Borussia Dortmund (Germany; 14.8) vs. Qarabag (Azerbaijan; 2.6) - Now this just ruins it. How is Borussia Dortmund ranked this low? Though it would be cool if an Azerbaijani club beat them.
34. BATE (Belarus; 13.3) vs. Maritimo (Portugal; 7.7) - It wasn't so long ago BATE was in Champions League group stage, where they had the oh-so-good fortune to be grouped with Real Madrid, Juventus and Zenit St. Petersburg. So they were slight underdogs.
33. Odense (Denmark; 15.0) vs. Motherwell (Scotland; 6.2) - Scotland's got to start rebuilding its league coefficient at some point, but looking at the team ratings, this might not be where they start.
32. Debrecen (Hungary; 5.4) vs. Litx Lovech (Bulgaria; 15.9) - The battle of red, white, and green flags. Mexico and Italy are in the "vertical" bracket.
31. Napoli (Italy; 14.9) vs. Elfsborg (Sweden; 7.3) - Like Borussia Dortmund, Napoli's another recognizable club without much recent continental success.
30. Hajduk Split (Croatia; 3.5) vs. Unirea Urziceni (Romania; 18.9) - This should actually be a pretty good match-up. Unirea is one of many decent teams from Romania (many of whom are in this tournament) while Hajduk Split's a traditional Croatian power.
29. Feyenoord (Netherlands; 16.4) vs. Gent (Belgium; 6.6) - Another good match-up, as Gent's coefficient doesn't match their club's quality.
28. Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine; 14.9) vs. Lech Poznan (Poland; 11.0) - The Jonathan Wilson Showdown.
27. Aris (Greece; 13.0) vs. Austria Wien (Austria, 16.9) - The first match of this playoff's already been played, with Aris winning 1-0 in Greece.
26. AIK (Sweden; 3.8) vs. Levski Sofia (Bulgaria; 25.4) - AIK's coefficient belies the fact that they're the reigning champions in Sweden.
25. Omonia (Cyprus; 4.6) vs. Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine; 25.4) - Myron Markevych is quietly one of the more respected managers in the world, serving in that capacity for both Metalist and the Ukraine national team.
24. Dundee United (Scotland; 5.2) vs. AEK Athens (Greece; 26.0) - This isn't a prediction column, though I don't expect AEK to have many problems in this pairing.
23. Lausanne-Sport (Switzerland; 5.7) vs. Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia; 25.8) - As we work ouu way down the list, we're going to see some lopsided match-ups. Lausanne-Sport beating Lokomotiv would be a notable upset.
22. Besiktas (Turkey; 33.9) vs. HJK Helsinki (Finland; 2.4) - One year removed from the league title in Turkey, Besiktas is another safe bet to make group stage.
21. Rapid Wien (Austria; 11.9) vs. Aston Villa (England; 25.9) - A rematch from last year, when Rapid sent Villa crashing out,
20. Palermo (Italy; 35.9) vs. Maribor (Slovenia; 2.9) - Palermo's sold some notable players this summer but should still have enough firepower to easily handle Maribor.
19. Club Brugge (Belgium; 36.6) vs. Dinamo Minsk (Belarus; 2.8) - Dinamo is part of a surprisingly deep Belarussian contingent in the playoffs. Club Brugge should help thin that out.
18. Celtic (Scotland; 35.2) vs. Utrecht (Netherlands; 7.3) - We've seen both Celtic and Rangers struggle in trying to qualify for recent tournaments.
17. Paris Saint-Germain (France; 39.7) vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel; 3.8) - Maccabl's one year removed from Champions League. PSG has been known to make waves in the odd cup competition.
16. Timisoara (Romania; 11.9) vs. Manchester City (33.4) - Their players "not feeling" the trip to Romania, Abu Dhabi United Group buys all of Timisoara's players pre-match, forcing their hosts to forfeit.
15. Getafe (Spain; 34.0) vs. APOEL (Cyprus; 11.6) - Cypriot teams have been feisty in recent tournaments, both in Champions League and Europa League/UEFA Cup. Even their national team gave Italy a scare in World Cup qualifying.
14. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany; 40.8) vs. Tavriya Simferopol (Ukraine; 7.9) - Bayer should have far too much talent for Tavriya.
13. AZ (Netherlands; 48.3) vs. Aktobe (Kazakhstan; 2.4) - I think we'd all like to see Borat in Holland.
12. Galatasaray (Turkey; 43.9) vs. Karpaty Lviv (Ukraine; 7.9) - As with Bayer Leverkusen's match against a Ukrainian side, Gala should have too much. Tough draws for the Ukrainian Premier League.
10. Vaslui (Romania; 11.4) vs. Lille (France; 46.7) - Gervinho's braids -plus-V-shaped hair line are worth finding the highlights, which he's surely be in, given his goal rate.
9. Steaua Bucuresti (Romania; 47.9) vs. Grasshopper (Switzerland; 13.7) - Steaua is the fourth Romanian club still alive in this competition.
8. PAOK (Greece; 11.5) vs. Fenerbahce (Turkey; 54.9) - Nobody is giving Fener credit for resisting the need to beat Young Boys. If you have a Twitter account, that joke will seem 48 hours late.
7. Sturm Graz (Austria; 6.9) vs. Juventus (Italy; 59.9) - Stranger than seeing Borussia Dortmund or Napoli with low coefficients is seeing how far Juve's fallen after forced-relegation and poor performance.
6. Sporting CP (Portugal; 57.7) vs. Brønby (Denmark, 13.0) - Usually in the Champions League mix, Sporting CP could help give Portugal a coefficient boost thanks to strong representation in Europa League.
5. Villareal (Spain; 71.0) vs. Dnepr Mogilev (Belarus; 2.3) - The Yellow Submarine is only here are at Mallorca's expense, not that Dnepr cares. They've already had to win two rounds just to get here.
4. Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia; 8.8) vs. PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands; 66.3) - PSV is the type of team that used to always do well in UEFA Cup. They have a ton of attacking talent. Europa League didn't play-out that way last year, but it's early in this format's history.
3. CSKA Moscow (Russia; 66.8) vs. Anorthorsis (Cyprus; 13.1) - A Champions League quarterfinalist against another small country club that was in the big show not too long ago.