The three UEFA men's European club competition group stages finished earlier this month with three draws being held last week.  While the UEFA Champions League draw garnered the most attention, largely due to a clerical error that required it to be redone, the Europa League and Europa Conference League play-off draws also took place with a number of Australians learning their next European opponents.

Europa League and Conference League play-off draw

  • The play-off stage is part of the new UEFA European men's competition set up to qualify for the knock-out rounds of the Europa League and Conference League.¬†
  • Six Australians learned their play-off matchups in both competitions.
  • Three other Australians qualified directly to the Round of 16 of either competition.

More Australian football news can be found on FTBL.

Under the new format for the UEFA Europa League and new UEFA Conference League, eight teams automatically qualify for both competitions' respective Round of 16 knock-out stages due to their performances in the group stage. 

Sixteen other teams must pass through a preliminary play-off round after the group stage to proceed to the respective competitions knock-out stages.

Europa League

A first placed group-stage finish in the Europa League would result in an automatic qualification to the Round of 16. A second place resulted in an Europa League play-off position with the other half the teams in the play-offs coming from the third placed finishers in the Champions League groups.   

The first leg of the play-off ties is scheduled for February 17 while the second is a week later on February 24.  Each team gets a home and away game.  The winner of the two-legged play-off continues to the Round of 16.  They will join the qualified first place group-stage Europa League winners in that future draw.

Mat Ryan's Real Sociedad finished second in Group B.  The Spanish side will meet Bundesliga's RB Leipzig in their play-off. Ryan featured once in goals for Real Sociedad in the group stage, starting against Monaco in November.

Deni Juric's Dinamo Zagreb finished second in Group H with the young Australian playing twice for the Croatian club in the group stage.  They were drawn against La Liga side Sevilla for their play-off.

Elsewhere, Milos Degenek's Red Star Belgrade finished first in Group F and proceed to the knock-out round. Degenek had played in four of Belgrade's group stage matches.  There are reports that the Socceroo could be leaving Red Star prior to the recommencement of the competition. 

Eintracht Frankfurt and Ajdin Hrustińá likewise finished first in their group and progress to the Round of 16. Hrustińá made two appearances in the group stage for his German side.

Europa Conference League

A first place group-stage finish in the Europa Conference League resulted in an automatic qualification for the Round of 16.  A second place finish resulted in an Europa Conference League play-off position with the other half of the teams in the play-offs coming from the third place group finishers in the Europa League.

Like the Europa League, the first leg of the play-off ties is scheduled for February 17 while the second is a week later on February 24.  Each team gets a home and away game.  The winner of each two-legged play-off continues to the Round of 16. They will join the first place group-stage Europa Conference League winners.

In Denmark, Awer Mabil's club Midtjylland finished third in their Europa League Group F and were drawn to play Greek side PAOK in their play-off draw. He made two appearances in the group stage.

Ange Postecoglou and¬†Tom Rogińᬆfinished third in their Europa League Group G with Celtic FC. ¬†The Scottish side will face off against Norwegian side Bod√ł/Glimt in their play-offs. ¬†Rogińá played in three of the Hoops' Europa League group stage matches.

Elsewhere, James Holland's Austrian side LASK finished first in Group A and has automatically progressed to the Round of 16.  The Socceroo made five appearances in the group stage.

Ryan Strain's Maccabi Haifa finished fourth in Group E and are eliminated.  The aspiring Socceroo missed part of the beginning of the season due to a hamstring injury. He did not feature in any group stage games but had been part of the squad during the qualifiers.

PLUS...

Ange Postecoglou wins first trophy with Celtic FC

Celtic FC beat Hibernian FC on Sunday to bring home the Scottish League Cup, the first trophy at Parkhead for former Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou.

PLUS...

Phoenix's new attacker Sandoval joined A-League side through Macarthur connection

Wellington Phoenix have officially announced the completion of a loan deal with Liga MX player Gael Sandoval. The acquisition of the attacker came after he received advice from the A-League club's former captain.

For all the results and fixtures, check out the Europa League website.