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MATCHDAY: Group-stage finale in Europa, Conference Leagues

December 9, 2021 GMT
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, Watford, England, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)
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Leicester City's Jamie Vardy scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, Watford, England, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)
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Leicester City's Jamie Vardy scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Watford and Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, Watford, England, Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday, when the final group games in the Europa League and Europa Conference League are played:

EUROPA LEAGUE

Jamie Vardy could start for Leicester against Napoli with a place in the last 16 on the line. The striker has played just 30 minutes off the bench in the Europa League this season but could play a prominent role in Italy after he was a substitute in Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League loss to Aston Villa. All four of the teams in Group C can still qualify as Legia Warsaw hosts Spartak Moscow in the other game. First place goes direct to the round of 16, and second place faces a team from the Champions League in a playoff for a round-of-16 spot. Elsewhere in the Europa League, Real Sociedad is aiming to snatch second in Group B from PSV Eindhoven but needs a win over the Dutch club. Lazio hosts Galatasaray in what’s essentially an early single-leg playoff. With both clubs already assured of a top-two finish in Group E, the winner will go direct to the last 16. If there’s a draw, Galatasaray keeps hold of first place. New Rangers coach Giovanni Van Bronckhorst has won his first four games in charge but has a tough task away to Group A leader Lyon, which is seeking to finish with a perfect six wins from six games.

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EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE

Tottenham’s match Thursday against Rennes was called off after a coronavirus outbreak at the English club that would have deprived manager Antonio Conte of at least eight players who have tested positive. A new date for the match has not been announced. Tottenham is second in its group and might have to win the game to qualify for a playoff match for the last 16 against one of eight teams that will drop down from the Europa League. The eight group winners advance automatically for the last 16. Six have already been confirmed, one of which is Rennes. The others are AZ Alkmaar, Copenhagen, Feyenoord, Gent and LASK. Tottenham, the biggest team in the competition along with Jose Mourinho’s Roma, is tied on points with Vitesse and will finish second with a victory. Roma is guaranteed a top-two finish in its group ahead of a match at CSKA Sofia but is a point behind leader Bodø/Glimt, which closes against Zorya Luhansk.

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