Some 32 teams are aiming for a place in the final in Tirana.
UEFA.com brings you the highlights of Matchday 1.
Tuesday September 14
Group A : Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-1 Alashkert
Group E : Maccabi Haifa 0-0 Feyenoord
Thursday September 16
Group A : HJK Helsinki – LASK (21:00)
Group B : Flora Tallinn – La Gantoise (9 p.m.), Anorthosis Famagusta – Partizan (9 p.m.)
Group C : Roma – CSKA-Sofia (21:00), Bodø/Glimt – Zorya Luhansk (21:00)
Group D : Jablonec – CFR Cluj (21:00), Randers – AZ Alkmaar (21:00)
Group E : Slavia Prague – Union Berlin (6:45 p.m.)
Group F : Slovan Bratislava – Copenhagen (6:45 p.m.), Lincoln Red Imps – PAOK (6:45 p.m.)
Group G : Rennes – Tottenham (6:45 p.m.), Mura – Speed (6:45 p.m.)
Group H : Kairat Almaty – Omonoia (4:30 p.m.), Qarabağ – Basel (6:45 p.m.)
Rennes, first French representative
Stade Rennais start the group stage on Thursday 16 September at home against Tottenham Hotspur. Remember that the eight group winners qualify for the round of 16. A play-off is played between the eight runners-up and the teams that finish third in their UEFA Europa League group. To qualify directly, Rennes will therefore also have to beat, in Group G, the Slovenians of NS Mura and the Dutch of Vitesse Arnhem.
Falling from Rosenborg (Norway) in the preliminary round (two wins), Bruno Genesio’s players can harbor some hopes of surviving the winter. In any case, they have at their head a coach who knows Europe for having led Lyon in the UEFA Champions League with, as a result, two victories over Manchester City in the groups in 2018 for the one who is sometimes nicknamed Pep Genesio.
Kane for the record
Having cleared all doubts over his future, Harry Kane propelled Spurs into the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage with two goals in their play-off win over Paços de Ferreira. He is already the club’s top continental goalscorer with 40 goals, but is just one appearance short of breaking Steve Perryman’s record of making 64 UEFA club competition appearances for Spurs.
Spurs won the inaugural UEFA Cup (now the UEFA Europa League) in 1971/72. Can they win the first edition of another new competition in 2021/22?
New clubs in groups
Alashkert become the first Armenian team to take part in a UEFA group stage this season, quite a rise for a club that has only been around for ten years. A move in 2013 to the capital Yerevan started it all. The club quickly established itself with four national titles.
The first international steps were assured with qualification at the expense of Scottish club St Johnstone in 2016, but Alashkert have done better this season. Reward ? A group with LASK, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and HJK Helsinki.
Berlin finally at the top?
Among the capitals of Europe’s five great footballing nations – England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – only one has ever won a major UEFA club competition, but Union Berlin could relegate that statistic to oblivion after have reached their first group stage. Hertha Berlin were regulars in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League for some time, and East German club Berliner Dynamo were European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finalists in 1971/72 . Union travel to Slavia Prague to start Group E, while Feyenoord and Maccabi Haifa await them next.
• Jose Mourinho won the UEFA Champions League with Porto and Inter, and the UEFA Cup/Europa League with Porto and Manchester United. Can the Roma manager become the first manager to win all three major UEFA trophies? Along with Udo Lattek and Rafael Benítez, he is one of only three managers to have won a UEFA trophy with three clubs. Can he win four in 2021/22?
• In the history of European club competition, there has perhaps never been a greater underdog than the club of Lincoln Red Imps. The champions of Gibraltar (population: 35,000) face Copenhagen, Slovan Bratislava and PAOK in their group. Beware the superiority complex, Lincoln beat Celtic at home in a UEFA Champions League qualifier in 2016.
September 16: Day 1
September 30: Day 2
October 21: Day 3
November 4: Day 4
November 25: Day 5
December 9: Day 6
After the groups
Draw-offs: December 13
Play-offs: February 17 and 24
Round of 16 draw: February 25, 2022
Eighth: March 10 and 17
Quarter and semi-final draw: March 18
Quarter-final first leg: April 7
Quarter-final second leg: April 4
Semi-final first leg: April 28
Semi-final second leg: May 5
Final: May 25