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The Daily Bee: Big Games in the Europa League

AFC Ajax v 1. FC Union Berlin: Knockout Round Play-Off Leg One - UEFA Europa League Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images

Good morning, everyone.

Europa League Action

Two Bundesliga teams featured in the Europa League yesterday: Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen. The former have been one of the best teams in Germany all season, while the latter have been one of the better teams since manager Xabi Alonso took charge, so both teams would have been expected to do well, despite the quality of their respective opponents. Unfortunately, the results were mixed at best. Union Berlin held Ajax to a 0-0 draw in Amsterdam, and will presumably have a slim advantage when they return to the German capital, but Bayer Leverkusen fell 3-2 to AS Monaco, thanks in part to this unbelievably embarrassing own goal from Lukas Hradecky:

I don’t know what has gotten into goalkeepers over the last ten years, but the amount that try and hilariously fail to emulate proper ball-playing keepers like Manuel Neuer and Ederson seems to increase every year.

Meanwhile, in a sporting event that would have seemed unthinkable ten years ago, Barcelona and Manchester United faced each other... in the Europa League.

Both sides have recovered somewhat from their recent slumps, with Barcelona leading La Liga and Manchester United performing well in the Premier League, but it was quite funny to watch two of the most famous clubs in the world compete in what is generally considered a less prestigious competition.

Brandt Getting Recognized

Whether it’s in our match threads, on the writers’ Slack channel, or in the Fear the Wall Discord, the Julian Brandt fandom is reaching a fever pitch. As it turns out, we are not the only ones beginning to take notice; that’s because Julian Brandt has been dubbed the Bundesliga’s player of the month!

The Daily Buzz

Do Union Berlin have what it takes to win the Europa League?