We take a look at the teams, players and matches set to catch the eye as the UEFA Europa League group stage begins. Catch all the action live on DStv, Your Home of Sport!
The UEFA Europa League is giving ambitious, bold contenders the chance to progress to the next level, with Ajax, Marseille and Liverpool all in the mix this season.
In this piece presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we pick out some key talking points ahead of the first round of UEFA Europa League group stage fixtures. Remember: Every mission matters.
HOW QUALIFYING FOR THE KNOCKOUTS WORKS
The eight group winners automatically go through to the last 16. Additional knockout round play-offs will then be played before the round of 16, pitching the eight group runners-up against the third-ranked teams from the UEFA Champions League groups.
The Europa League's third-place sides switch to the UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-offs.
GROUP B'S HEAVYWEIGHT BATTLE
Two previous UEFA Champions League winners will go head-to-head when Ajax host Marseille in a mouth-watering tie. The Dutch giants are certainly not short of European pedigree and boast a total of eight UEFA titles, while their opponents famously won the first rebranded Champions League in 1992/93 and have also been UEFA Cup/Europa League runners-up on three occasions.
Brighton and AEK Athens complete what is guaranteed to be a hugely competitive group. "This is a tough draw, but also a beautiful one," said Ajax coach Maurice Steijn. "I love a challenge and we will go into these matches with full commitment. We need to develop this team so we can play these matches."
NEWCOMERS READY TO CHALLENGE
Six teams are preparing to play their first ever Europa League group stage matches, with TSCRead on supersport.com