2015–16 UEFA Europa League
30 June – 27 August 2015 (qualifying)|
17 September 2015 – 18 May 2016 (competition proper)
48+8 (competition proper)|
158+33 (total) (from 54 associations)
Sevilla (5th title)|
536 (2.61 per match)|
4,487,160 (21,889 per match)|
Aritz Aduriz (10 goals)|
The 2015–16 UEFA Europa League was the 45th season of Europe's secondary club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the seventh season since it was renamed from the UEFA Cup to the UEFA Europa League.
The 2016 UEFA Europa League Final was played between Liverpool and Sevilla at the St. Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland, and won by Sevilla, their fifth title (extending their own record) and third win in a row (also a tournament record).
Sevilla initially started the 2015–16 European club season in the Champions League as the Europa League title holders, but qualified for the Europa League by finishing third in the Champions League group stage, and successfully defended their title. As the winners of the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League, they qualified for the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League, and also earned the right to play against the winners of the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid, in the 2016 UEFA Super Cup.
The UEFA Executive Committee held in May and September 2013 approved the following changes to the UEFA Europa League starting from the 2015–16 season (for the three-year cycle until the 2017–18 season):
- The title holders of the UEFA Europa League will qualify for the UEFA Champions League, and therefore no Europa League berth will be reserved for them (although it is still possible for them to defend their title if they drop down to the Europa League after Champions League elimination).
- All associations will have a maximum of three teams entering the Europa League (excluding those transferred from the Champions League); previously associations 7–9 each had four entrants (the only exception is when both the Champions League title holders and the Europa League title holders are from the same top three ranked association and do not qualify for either the Champions League or Europa League through domestic competitions, and the fourth-placed team of their association enter the Europa League instead of the Champions League because a maximum of five teams from one association can enter the Champions League, meaning in this case, four teams from their association enter the Europa League).
- The number of teams directly qualifying for the group stage will be increased to 16 teams (from the top 12 associations); previously six teams (from the top six associations) directly qualified for the group stage.
- Should the domestic cup winners qualify for the Champions League, the cup runners-up will no longer be granted a spot in the Europa League, and the spot will be given to the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions.
Association team allocation
A total of 191 teams from all 54 UEFA member associations participated in the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League. The association ranking based on the UEFA country coefficients was used to determine the number of participating teams for each association:
- Associations 1–51 (except Liechtenstein) each have three teams qualify.
- Associations 52–53 each have two teams qualify.
- Liechtenstein and Gibraltar each have one team qualify (Liechtenstein organises only a domestic cup and no domestic league; Gibraltar as per decision by the UEFA Executive Committee).
- The top three associations of the 2014–15 UEFA Respect Fair Play ranking each gain an additional berth (the 2015–16 season will be the last where Fair Play berths are allocated to the Europa League).
- Moreover, 33 teams eliminated from the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League are transferred to the Europa League.
- Since the winners of the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League, Sevilla, qualified for the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League, their berth in the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League (which they qualified for as the fifth-placed team of the 2014–15 La Liga) was vacated and not replaced by any other team.
For the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League, the associations were allocated places according to their 2014 UEFA country coefficients, which took into account their performance in European competitions from 2009–10 to 2013–14.
Apart from the allocation based on the country coefficients, associations may have additional teams participating in the Europa League, as noted below:
- (FP) – Additional berth via Fair Play ranking (Netherlands, England, Republic of Ireland)
- (CL) – Additional teams transferred from Champions League
- (EL) – Vacated berth due to Europa League title holders playing in Champions League
In the default access list, Sevilla enter the group stage (as the fifth-placed team of the 2014–15 La Liga). However, since they qualified for the Champions League as the Europa League title holders, the spot which they qualified for in the Europa League group stage is vacated, and the following changes to the default allocation system are made:
- The domestic cup winners of association 13 (Switzerland) are promoted from the third qualifying round to the group stage.
- The domestic cup winners of association 18 (Cyprus) are promoted from the second qualifying round to the third qualifying round.
- The domestic cup winners of associations 24 and 25 (Sweden and Bulgaria) are promoted from the first qualifying round to the second qualifying round.
||Teams entering in this round
||Teams advancing from previous round
||Teams transferred from Champions League|
|First qualifying round
- 29 domestic cup winners from associations 26–54
- 35 domestic league runners-up from associations 18–53 (except Liechtenstein)
- 35 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 16–51 (except Liechtenstein)
- 3 teams which qualified via Fair Play ranking
|Second qualifying round
- 7 domestic cup winners from associations 19–25
- 2 domestic league runners-up from associations 16–17
- 6 domestic league fourth-placed teams from associations 10–15
- 51 winners from first qualifying round
|Third qualifying round
- 5 domestic cup winners from associations 14–18
- 9 domestic league third-placed teams from associations 7–15
- 5 domestic league fourth-placed teams from associations 5–9
- 3 domestic league fifth-placed teams from associations 4–6 (League Cup winners for France)
- 3 domestic league sixth-placed teams from associations 1–3 (League Cup winners for England)
- 33 winners from second qualifying round
- 29 winners from third qualifying round
- 15 losers from Champions League third qualifying round
- 13 domestic cup winners from associations 1–13
- 1 domestic league fourth-placed team from association 4
- 3 domestic league fifth-placed teams from associations 1–3
- −1 Europa League title holders
- 22 winners from play-off round
- 10 losers from Champions League play-off round
- 12 group winners from group stage
- 12 group runners-up from group stage
- 8 third-placed teams from Champions League group stage
A Europa League place is vacated when a team qualifies for both the Champions League and the Europa League, or qualifies for the Europa League by more than one method. When a place is vacated, it is redistributed within the national association by the following rules (regulations Articles 3.03 and 3.04):
- When the domestic cup winners (considered as the "highest-placed" qualifier within the national association with the latest starting round) also qualify for the Champions League, their Europa League place is vacated. As a result, the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions qualify for the Europa League, with the Europa League qualifiers which finish above them in the league moved up one "place" (the 2015–16 season will be the first with this particular arrangement where the domestic cup runners-up are no longer guaranteed a place in the Europa League in this scenario).
- When the domestic cup winners also qualify for the Europa League through league position, their place through the league position is vacated. As a result, the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions qualify for the Europa League, with the Europa League qualifiers which finish above them in the league moved up one "place" if possible.
- For associations where a Europa League place is reserved for the League Cup winners, they always qualify for the Europa League as the "lowest-placed" qualifier. If the League Cup winners have already qualified for European competitions through other methods, this reserved Europa League place is taken by the highest-placed team in the league which have not yet qualified for European competitions.
- A Fair Play place is taken by the highest-ranked team in the domestic Fair Play table which have not yet qualified for European competitions.
The labels in the parentheses show how each team qualified for the place of its starting round:
- TH: Title holders
- CW: Cup winners
- 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc.: League position
- LC: League Cup winners
- PW: End-of-season Europa League play-off winners
- FP: Fair Play
- CL: Transferred from Champions League
- GS: Third-placed teams from group stage
- PO: Losers from play-off round
- Q3: Losers from third qualifying round
Notably two teams took part in the competition that were not playing in their national top-division. They were Go Ahead Eagles (2nd tier) and UCD (2nd tier).
- ^ Bulgaria (BUL): Lokomotiv Sofia, the third-placed team of the 2014–15 A Group, would have qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round, but failed to obtain a UEFA licence. As a result, the berth was given to Litex Lovech, the fourth-placed team of the league. An appeal was denied on 1 June 2015.
- ^ Italy (ITA): Genoa, the sixth-placed team of the 2014–15 Serie A, would have qualified for the Europa League third qualifying round, but failed to obtain a UEFA licence. As a result, the berth was given to Sampdoria, the seventh-placed team of the league. Genoa withdrew their appeal on 3 June 2015.
- ^ Latvia (LVA): Liepāja, the fourth-placed team of the 2014 Latvian Higher League, would have qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round, but failed to obtain a UEFA licence as they were affiliated with the Latvian Football Federation for less than three years after reforming from the dissolved Liepājas Metalurgs. As a result, the berth was given to Spartaks Jūrmala, the sixth-placed team of the league, as Daugava Daugavpils, the fifth-placed team, also failed to obtain a UEFA licence.
- ^ Moldova (MDA): Tiraspol, the fourth-placed team of the 2014–15 Moldovan National Division, would have qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round, but were dissolved at the end of the 2014–15 season. As a result, the berth was given to Saxan, the fifth-placed team of the league.
- ^ Romania (ROU): CFR Cluj, the third-placed team of the 2014–15 Liga I, would have qualified for the Europa League second qualifying round, but were banned by UEFA after failing to settle overdue payables. As a result, Astra Giurgiu, the fourth-placed team of the league, entered the second qualifying round instead of the first qualifying round, while the first qualifying round berth was given to Botoșani, the eighth-placed team of the league, as Petrolul Ploiești, CS U Craiova and Dinamo București, the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-placed teams of the league respectively, all failed to obtain UEFA licences.
- ^ Russia (RUS): Dynamo Moscow, the fourth-placed team of the 2014–15 Russian Premier League, would have qualified for the Europa League third qualifying round, but they were referred to the UEFA's Club Financial Control Body adjudicatory chamber on 24 April 2015 for violating the Financial Fair Play break-even requirements after the club was not able to reach the settlement with UEFA. The meeting regarding the sanctions for the violation was held on 16 June 2015, and on 19 June 2015, it was announced that Dynamo Moscow were excluded from the UEFA Europa League for the 2015–16 season. As a result, the berth was given to Rubin Kazan, the fifth-placed team of the league.
Round and draw dates
The schedule of the competition is as follows (all draws are held at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, unless stated otherwise).
||First qualifying round
||22 June 2015
||2 July 2015
||9 July 2015|
|Second qualifying round
||16 July 2015
||23 July 2015|
|Third qualifying round
||17 July 2015
||30 July 2015
||6 August 2015|
||7 August 2015
||20 August 2015
||27 August 2015|
||28 August 2015
|17 September 2015|
||1 October 2015|
||22 October 2015|
||5 November 2015|
||26 November 2015|
||10 December 2015|
||Round of 32
||14 December 2015
||18 February 2016
||25 February 2016|
|Round of 16
||26 February 2016
||10 March 2016
||17 March 2016|
||18 March 2016
||7 April 2016
||14 April 2016|
||15 April 2016
||28 April 2016
||5 May 2016|
||18 May 2016 at St. Jakob-Park, Basel|
Matches in the qualifying, play-off, and knockout rounds may also be played on Tuesdays or Wednesdays instead of the regular Thursdays due to scheduling conflicts.
In the qualifying rounds and the play-off round, teams are divided into seeded and unseeded teams based on their 2015 UEFA club coefficients, and then drawn into two-legged home-and-away ties. Teams from the same association cannot be drawn against each other.
First qualifying round
The draw for the first and second qualifying round was held on 22 June 2015. With 102 teams involved, it was UEFA's biggest ever tournament draw. The first legs were played on 30 June and 2 July, and the second legs were played on 7 and 9 July 2015.
- ^ a b c d e Order of legs reversed after original draw.
Second qualifying round
The first legs were played on 16 July, and the second legs were played on 21 and 23 July 2015.
Third qualifying round
The draw for the third qualifying round was held on 17 July 2015. The first legs were played on 29 and 30 July, and the second legs were played on 6 August 2015.
- ^ Order of legs reversed after original draw.
- ^ UEFA awarded Legia Warsaw with a 3–0 win against Kukësi after a Legia Warsaw player was hit in the head by an object thrown from the crowd. The original match was abandoned in the 52nd minute with a 2–1 lead for Legia Warsaw.
The draw for the play-off round was held on 7 August 2015. The first legs were played on 20 August, and the second legs were played on 27 August 2015.
- ^ a b c Order of legs reversed after original draw.
Location of teams that have qualified for the group stage of the 2015–16 UEFA Europa League
Red: Group A;
Yellow: Group B;
Green: Group C;
Dark Green: Group D;
Purple: Group E;
Pink: Group F;
Blue: Group G;
Orange: Group H;
Brown: Group I;
Deep pink: Group J;
Cyan: Group K;
Spring green: Group L.
The draw for the group stage was held in Monaco on 28 August 2015. The 48 teams were drawn into twelve groups of four, with the restriction that teams from the same association could not be drawn against each other. For the draw, the teams were seeded into four pots based on their 2015 UEFA club coefficients.
In each group, teams played against each other home-and-away in a round-robin format. The group winners and runners-up advanced to the round of 32, where they were joined by the eight third-placed teams of the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League group stage. The matchdays were 17 September, 1 October, 22 October, 5 November, 26 November, and 10 December 2015.
A total of 24 national associations were represented in the group stage. Augsburg, Belenenses, Gabala, Groningen, Midtjylland, Monaco, Sion and Skënderbeu Korçë made their debut appearances in the group stage (although Monaco have appeared in the UEFA Cup group stage). Skënderbeu Korçë were the first team from Albania to play in the group stage of any UEFA club competition.
|The teams are ranked according to points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss). If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches, the following criteria are applied in the order given to determine the rankings (regulations Article 16.01):
- higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the teams in question;
- superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams in question;
- higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the teams in question;
- higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played among the teams in question;
- if, after having applied criteria 1 to 4, teams still have an equal ranking, criteria 1 to 4 are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in question to determine their final rankings. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 6 to 12 apply;
- superior goal difference in all group matches;
- higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
- higher number of away goals scored in all group matches;
- higher number of wins in all group matches;
- higher number of away wins in all group matches;
- lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received in all group matches (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points);
- higher club coefficient.
In the knockout phase, teams played against each other over two legs on a home-and-away basis, except for the one-match final. The mechanism of the draws for each round was as follows:
- In the draw for the round of 32, the twelve group winners and the four third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage with the better group records were seeded, and the twelve group runners-up and the other four third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage were unseeded. The seeded teams were drawn against the unseeded teams, with the seeded teams hosting the second leg. Teams from the same group or the same association could not be drawn against each other.
- In the draws for the round of 16 onwards, there were no seedings, and teams from the same group or the same association could be drawn against each other.
Round of 32
The draw for the round of 32 was held on 14 December 2015. The first legs were played on 16 and 18 February, and the second legs were played on 24 and 25 February 2016.
Round of 16
The draw for the round of 16 was held on 26 February 2016. The first legs were played on 10 March, and the second legs were played on 17 March 2016.
The draw for the quarter-finals was held on 18 March 2016. The first legs were played on 7 April, and the second legs were played on 14 April 2016.
The draw for the semi-finals was held on 15 April 2016. The first legs were played on 28 April, and the second legs were played on 5 May 2016.
The final was played on 18 May 2016 at the St. Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland. The "home" team (for administrative purposes) was determined by an additional draw held after the semi-final draw.
Statistics exclude qualifying rounds and play-off round.
Squad of the season
The UEFA technical study group selected the following 18 players as the squad of the tournament.