Following the latest round of Europa League action we’ve picked out five stars who impressed on Matchday Three.
Liverpool’s midfield recruits are beginning to find their feet in English football after Jurgen Klopp took a scalpel to his engine room this summer.
Dominik Szoboszlai has been the headline act to date, but Ryan Gravenberch is fast emerging as brilliant business for the Reds. The Dutchman appeared a gamble as a late deadline day recruit, having failed to earn an opportunity at Bayern Munich last season. However, the 21-year-old has looked lively in his opening performances in a Liverpool shirt and produced his best performance yet as Klopp’s side thrashed Toulouse 5-1 at Anfield.
Gravenberch caused problems all evening for the visitors with his neat touches and ability to turn sharply and drive forward from midfield. He got the goal his performance deserved after following in a rebound from Darwin Nunez and Klopp believes there’s much more to come from the £35m recruit.
“He’s a good player. I’m so happy for him that he starts really enjoying his football again,” the German told TNT Sports.
“His first touch is incredible, his acceleration with the ball. He’s not even half way there. The good thing is that he has a lot of things to improve.”
Stephan El Shaarawy
Stephan El Shaarawy has had some week. The Roma winger has been accused of involvement in the ongoing betting scandal surrounding Italian football, allegations the Egyptian has branded as ‘completely fake’.
The 31-year-old came off the bench to score a last-minute winner against Monza at the weekend, before starring after being given a starting role in the Italian club’s Europa League win over Slavia Prague.
El Shaarawy set up both goals in Roma’s routine win, one which saw the Serie A side race into a two-goal lead. Edoardo Bove opened the scoring inside the opening minute, before Romelu Lukaku scored for the 14th consecutive UEL game to continue his brilliant start in the Italian capital.
El Shaarawy will be glad his football has done the talking after a challenging week off the pitch.
Brighton’s first continental campaign is up and running after a 2-0 win over four-time European champions Ajax at the Amex Stadium. The Dutch side might be enduring a nightmare start to the Eredivisie season, but this still represents a scalp for the Seagulls and much needed win in their bid to progress from a difficult Group B.
Ansu Fati was a bright spark for Roberto De Zerbi’s side and appears to be settling on the south coast, following his summer arrival from Barcelona. The loanee featured in a more central role than he often occupied in Catalonia and impressed in partnership with Joao Pedro for Brighton.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) October 26, 2023
The Spaniard’s strike was his second in successive matches for the Seagulls, as he collected a clipped pass from Simon Adingra and rolled home. Fati’s career had began to stall at Barcelona after an exciting initial emergence, but Brighton appears the ideal environment for the forward to rediscover his form and confidence.
A successful season could place him back in the plans of Xavi, who has an embarrassment of young talents to choose from at the Camp Nou. His standing ovation at the Amex was thoroughly deserved.
Florian Wirtz’s ACL injury had halted the progress of one of German football’s brightest talents, though his lengthy absence might just have allowed Bayer Leverkusen to keep hold of the 20-year-old for a little longer.
Europe’s top clubs will be keeping a close eye on the midfielder’s performances after an electric start to the new campaign, with Wirtz having averaged a goal involvement every 72 minutes across the Europa League and Bundesligan in 2023/24.
The Germany international was the star of the show as the Bundesliga leaders thrashed Qarabag 5-1 at the BayArena, scoring one and creating three goals in an emphatic performance.
A goal and a hat trick of assists for Florian Wirtz 🪄 pic.twitter.com/mnw3oeqNYh
— B/R Football (@brfootball) October 26, 2023
After a knee issue that kept him out of action for 265 days, Wirtz has returned in sublime form. He’s one of the best prospects in Europe’s top five leagues right now.
Things have tightened up in Group A, with leaders West Ham beaten at Olympiacos and Freiburg beating TSC to move level on points with the Premier League outfit.
Vincenzo Grifo was the decisive factor in a come-from-behind win for Freiburg, as the German-born Italy international scored a hat-trick. The midfielder converted a penalty and free-kick as part of his treble, with Grifo’s set-piece excellence boosting the Bundesliga’s team’s hopes of reaching the knockout rounds.
🔎 | FOCUS
Well, this was something special by Vincenzo Grifo against Bačka Topola:
👌 57 touches
⚽️ 3 goals
🎯 4 shots/3 on target (1.29 xG)
🎁 1 big chance created
🔑 5 key passes
👟 37/42 accurate passes (0.24 xA)
📈 9.8 Sofascore Rating
— Sofascore (@SofascoreINT) October 26, 2023