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UEFA Europa League: Knockout stage picture getting clearer

A few of the groups are muddled in the Europa League, but for the most part, it's becoming apparent who is on the cusp of advancing to the next round.

Clive Brunskill

The group stage of the Europa League is only half completed, but most groups have a fairly obvious hierarchy. By the end of the day on Thursday, it should be fairly obvious who is going to progress to the knockout rounds from most of the competition's groups.

One exception is Group A, almost certainly the strongest in the competition. Liverpool take on Anzhi in one of the day's early games, while Udinese and Young Boys kick off an hour later. Any two of the four could go through, but Liverpool have the clear upper hand after defeating Anzhi at Anfield during the last round.

Groups D and J are also incredibly tight. Steaua Bucharest leads Group D and is riding a wave of momentum following their big derby win over the weekend, but they face a tough test away to Molde on Thursday. Copenhagen hosts Stuttgart in that group's other match. In Group J, Tottenham Hotspur are in serious need of a home win against Maribor to keep pace, while Lazio can take over control of the group if they beat Panathinaikos.

Schedule (all times ET)

Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Liverpool - 12 p.m.
Neftchi vs. Rubin Kazan - 12 p.m.
Udinese vs. Young Boys - 1 p.m.
Adademica vs. Atletico Madrid - 1 p.m.
Viktoria Plzen vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv - 1 p.m.
Fenerbahce vs. AEL - 1 p.m.
Marselle vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach - 1 p.m.
Bordeaux vs. Maritimo - 1 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. Newcastle - 1 p.m.
FC Copenhagen vs. VfB Stuttgart - 1 p.m.
Molde vs. Steaua Bucharest - 1 p.m.
AIK vs. PSV Eindhoven - 1 p.m.
Napoli vs. Dnipro - 1 p.m.
FC Basel vs. Videoton FC - 3 p.m.
Partizan Belgrade vs. Inter Milan - 3 p.m.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Lyon - 3 p.m.
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona vs. Sparta Prague - 3 p.m.
Lazio vs. Panathinaikos - 3 p.m.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. NK Maribor - 3 p.m.
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Rapid Vienna - 3 p.m.
Metalist Kharkiv vs. Rosenborg - 3 p.m.
Hannover vs. Helsingborg - 3 p.m.
FC Twente vs. Levante - 3 p.m.