A look at what’s happening in European football on Thursday:
Cristiano Ronaldo pushed for a departure from Manchester United in the transfer window so he could play for a team in the Champions League. After failing to secure a transfer, he will have to get used to playing in Europe’s second-tier league for the first time since 2002 with Sporting Lisbon. Indeed, the Europa League is arguably Ronaldo’s most likely route to significant playing time at United this season. He is in line for a recall to United’s team for their opening game against Real Sociedad after coming on as a substitute in the last four Premier League games. United manager Erik ten Hag is likely to start his fringe players in the game at Old Trafford and that is what Ronaldo and club captain Harry Maguire have become after making big changes following the team’s sad start to the season. Sociedad’s team could be David Silva, who has long been a star of Manchester City. Arsenal are England’s other big hope in the league and the Premier League leaders start in Zurich. Roma visits Bulgarian club Ludogorets with striker Tammy Abraham who is expected to be on the bench due to a shoulder problem. With Feyenoord visiting Lazio, Italian authorities have banned the Dutch club’s fans from traveling to Rome after supporters clashed with police and damaged a historic fountain during a 2015 trip to take on Roma.
EUROPE CONFERENCE LEAGUE
Villarreal reached the semi-finals of the Champions League four months ago, but this time is in the third division of the Europa Conference League after finishing seventh in Spain last season. Villarreal coach Unai Emery will look to add European competition to his four Europa League titles in his career, and the path starts at home to Lech Poznan. In the second edition of the Europe conference, teams from Kosovo, Liechtenstein and Lithuania will give their countries a first-ever representative in the group stage of a UEFA competition. Ballkani receives Cluj, Vaduz is at home against Apollon Limassol and Žalgiris plays against Slovan Bratislava. The Ukrainian team Dnipro-1 receives AZ Alkmaar in Košice in neighboring Slovakia. West Ham hosts FCSB — the Romanian club that won the 1986 European Cup as Steaua Bucharest — and Fiorentina is home to Latvian champions RFS. Coming off a draw with Juventus, Fiorentina are expected to use their reserves and a crowd of just around 10,000 is expected at the 43,000 seat Stadio Artemio Franchi. The Viola’s only major international trophy was the European Cup II in 1961.
More AP football: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports