The 2023-24 UEFA Europa League season is finally here! All eyes were on the Champions League on Tuesday through Wednesday but the focus shifts to UEFA's other beloved club competition, with some of Europe's most exciting teams playing in this tournament.
The most obvious ones are Liverpool and Bayer Leverkusen, who have started the season strong but missed out on the top four last season. Additionally, fans should be excited to see Brighton, West Ham, Roma, and many others take to the field.
All 16 games on Matchday 1 will be played on Thursday, with eight of those fixtures being 12:45 p.m. ET kick-offs while the remaining ties will take place at 3 p.m. ET as usual. Here is everything you need to know ahead of this round of matches.
Broadcast information for the UEFA Europa League in the USA
CBS Sports offers a multiplatform coverage of the 2023-24 UEFA Europa League season, with Paramount+ streaming all the games in this competition — as well as the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa Conference League — live for fans in the USA. Select matches will also be available on CBS Sports Network and CBS Sports Golazo Network, the free 24-hour football streaming network.
TelevisaUnivision also has broadcasting rights for European football, which means fans in the USA will get Spanish-language coverage of the UEFA Europa League through TUDN USA, Univision, UniMás, and ViX.
Top games to watch on Matchday 1 of the 2023-24 UEFA Europa League
LASK vs. Liverpool
For the first time since the early days of Jurgen Klopp's reign, Liverpool find themselves in the UEFA Europa League. The Premier League giants kick off their campaign in one of the eight early kick-offs, taking on Austrian side LASK.
Salah and Co. enter this clash on the back of phenomenal form. The Merseyside giants have won all but one of their opening five Premier League games, while only drawing away to Chelsea in round one, and will look to maintain this form. Just like Liverpool, LASK are currently third in the table in their domestic league but are not unbeaten this season — though they are unbeaten in their last eight matches across all competitions.
Leverkusen vs. Hacken
Leverkusen, who have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in Europe so far this season, take on Swedish side Häcken in their 2023-24 UEFA Europa League opener. Xabi Alonso's men missed out on UEFA Champions League football after finishing sixth last season but have been nothing short of excellent this term, picking up 10 points in the Bundesliga from the first four games and sitting ahead of Bayern at the top of the table.
Häcken, on the other side, are third in their domestic league but it should be pointed out that Allsvenskan, the Swedish top flight, is nearing the end of the season as the campaign began in April. The visitors have lost only six games in their league, which is impressive, but will face a tricky test at the BayArena.
Sheriff vs. Roma
Just months after losing a European final for the first time in his career, Jose Mourinho returns to the UEFA Europa League as he looks to make amend for last season's heartbreak against Sevilla. The Italian club visit Sheriff Tiraspol in their opening game but enter this tie on the back of poor form.
While Mourinho's men beat Empoli 7-0 over the weekend in their most recent fixture, that was their first win of the campaign, losing twice and drawing once in their other outings. While the hosts have suffered a loss this season as well, the Moldovan club have won every other domestic game. However, Sheriff did lose to Maccabi Haifa in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, hence their presence in this competition.
Ajax vs. Marseille
This is arguably the most interesting fixture on this list as it will see two well-known European clubs go head-to-head. However, both teams have struggled so far this season and this is particularly true for Ajax, who sit 12th in the Eredivisie table after four games.
The Dutch giants have only one win from their opening four fixtures, with the pressure on newly-appointed manager Maurice Steijn thus piling up. Marseille, on the other hand, are third in Ligue 1 but have still failed to win three of their opening five games. The recent departure of Marcelino has left them in further crisis and it will be interesting to see how they handle this game in the wake of this drama.
Brighton vs. AEK Athens
Brighton prepare to play in Europe for the first time in history following what has been a remarkable rise over the past few years. The Seagulls, who are currently fifth in the Premier League, finished sixth in the English top flight last campaign and will be looking to get their hands on European silverware in their debut season. De Zerbi's men must win their opener first, but after beating Manchester United 3-1 over the weekend, the hosts should be confident.
AEK Athens, meanwhile, were held to a draw by Olympiakos over the weekend, thus leaving the visitors with only one win in three in the Greek top flight. Can they pull off a memorable victory at the Amex Stadium? Tune in to find out.
West Ham vs. Bačka Topola
And finally, we have West Ham, the reigning UEFA Europa Conference League champions who secured their spot in the Europa League courtesy of that win over Fiorentina in last year's final. The Hammers, who finished 14th in the table last season, are currently sixth in the Premier League standings and have begun the campaign in a lovely fashion, with Ward-Prowse and Alvarez impressing following the exit of Declan Rice.
Bačka Topola, however, have been exceptional, with the Serbian side winning all but one of their seven games in their top flight this season. As a result, the visitors top their league and enter this clash on the back of a four-game winning streak across all competitions — the away side, however, did lose to Sporting Braga in the UEFA Champions League qualifying round.
Who's in and who's out?
Here are the list of players injured from the UEFA Europa League's top clubs:
Liverpool: Thiago Alcantara (injured); Trent Alexander-Arnold (doubtful)
Brighton: Julio Enciso and Jakub Moder (injured); Pervis Estupiñán and Solly March (doubtful)
West Ham: Edson Alvarez (doubtful)
Ajax: Gerónimo Rulli and Ahmetcan Kaplan (doubtful)
Marseille: Ismaïla Sarr and Amir Murillo (injured)
Roma: Tammy Abraham, Marash Kumbulla, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Chris Smalling (injured)
Leverkusen: Patrik Shick and Arthur (injured)
Atalanta: El Bilal Toure and Gianluca Scamacca (injured)
Sporting CP: Jerry St. Juste (injured)