The knockout stage in the Europa League kicks off this Thursday, with 16 teams battling it out for progression to the round of 16. Here is everything you need to know about the first leg.

The UEFA Europa League returns this midweek, with the Knockout Round Playoffs kicking off on Thursday. Here a total of 16 teams will battle it out to join the eight group winners in the round of 16.

Of the 16 teams, eight entered this competition from the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in Europe's premier club tournament. This includes some continental heavyweights, including AC Milan, Benfica, and Galatasaray.

All eight fixtures will be played across two legs, with the first round of matches taking place this Thursday. Four are 12:45 p.m. ET kick-offs while the remaining four matches commence at 3 p.m. ET.

Here is everything you need to know about the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Playoffs matches taking place this week.

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 USAUnivisionUniMás, and ViX

Top games to watch in the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Playoffs

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Marseille

Shakhtar enter the Europa League having performed admirably well in the UEFA Champions League. Despite being grouped up with Barcelona and Porto, the Ukrainian heavyweights finished third and were only three points short of matching the aforementioned clubs' tally. In fact, Hirnyky even registered an unforgettable 1-0 victory over the Catalan giants and will want to go far in this competition.

However, can they overcome Marseille? Gattuso's men came achingly close to winning their group and receiving a bye to the round of 16 but missed out to Brighton. Results in Ligue 1 have also not been great recently, sparking anger from the supporters. However, the French giants will be out for revenge after losing the 2008-09 UEFA Cup quarterfinals to — surprise, surprise — Shakhtar.

Feyenoord vs. Roma

Roma take to Europe for the first time since the sacking of Jose Mourinho, the man who led the club to the UEFA Europa Conference League title two seasons ago, their one and only European title. Since his departure, however, the Giallorossi have won all but one match, with Daniele De Rossi doing a spectacular job as interim manager.

But can he lead his former team to the round of 16? Feyenoord, the club Mourinho's Roma beat in that UEFA Europa Conference League final, enter this competition after missing out on a UEFA Champions League round of 16 ticket to Atletico Madrid and Lazio. Additionally, while De club aan de Maas are outperforming Roma in their domestic league, Arne Slot's men are losing the Eredivisie title race, sitting 10 points behind current leaders PSV. Nonetheless, in Santiago Gimenez, the hosts boast one of Europe's deadliest goalscorers and will look to beat the Serie A outfit on home soil.

Milan vs. Rennes

The standout game of the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Playoffs will see Italian giants AC Milan lock horns with Rennes. The Rossoneri have been one of Serie A's better teams this season, sitting in third behind Juventus and title favorites Inter Milan. Additionally, Leao and Co. narrowly missed out on a UEFA Champions League round of 16 spot to PSG despite finishing level on points with the French giants and will have to focus on winning the Europa League, a competition they have never won.

Rennes, meanwhile, are seventh in Ligue 1 and are currently on an eight-game winning streak across all competitions. Despite this, Les Rennais were unable to win their group and secure a bye to the round of 16, missing out to Villarreal. Can the French outfit secure a memorable victory at the San Siro? Don't miss this showdown.

Who's in and who's out?

Here are the players unavailable for the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Playoffs:

Galatasaray: Hakim Ziyech (injured); Derrick Kohn, Victor Nelsson, Abdulkerim Bardakci, Sergio Oliveira, and Kerem Akturkoglu (doubtful)

Shakhtar Donetsk: Lassina Traore, Ivan Petryak, Marlon Gomes, and Tymur Puzankov (injured)

Marseille: Valentin Rongier, Bilal Nadir, Amir Murillo (injured); Ismaila Sarr (suspended); Geoffrey Kondogbia and Jordan Veretour (doubtful)

Feyenoord: Gernot Trauner, Justin Bijlow, Thomas van den Belt (injured); Quinten Timber (doubtful)

Roma: Tammy Abraham (injured); Bryan Cristante and Evan Ndicka (doubtful)

AC Milan: Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori (injured); Ismael Bennacer (doubtful)

Sporting CP: No major absentees

Benfica: Juan Bernat (injured)

Full list of games for the UEFA Europa League Knockout Round Playoffs (1st leg)