The Europa League resumes with a new format: 32 teams instead of 48 and a new playoff round in February.
Nearly every team from lower-ranked countries is now in the Europa Conference League. The Europa League occupies a curious middle ground with no genuine minnows involved and the bigger picture unclear until third-place teams in Champions League groups transfer across to those February playoffs.
Leicester vs. Napoli is the standout game on Thursday. Both teams occupied Champions League qualification places for most of last season then lost on the last day to drop to fifth place in the Premier League and Serie A.
Galatasaray vs. Lazio and Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Fenerbahçe pair some of the most fervent fans in European football. The latter game brings Fenerbahçe captain Mesut Özil back to Germany.
A 15-game schedule on Thursday is split between 1645 GMT and 1900 GMT kickoffs.
Europa Conference League
UEFA will be delighted to see their latest competition having a couple of high-profile figures for its inaugural campaign. Whether Jose Mourinho and Harry Kane are happy to be those headline acts is another question.
With his new team, Roma, who currently lead Serie A, Mourinho can become the first manager to win all three current major UEFA club trophies, having won the Champions League twice (with Porto and Inter Milan) and the UEFA Cup/Europa League twice (with Porto and Manchester United). Roma start with a home match against CSKA Sofia.
As for Kane, he wanted to be playing in the Champions League with Manchester City this season. As it is, the England captain will be in Europe’s third-tier competition, which was created essentially to help countries whose teams cannot realistically compete for the two existing titles.
Tottenham, like Roma, are expected to go deep in the Conference League and starts with a trip to French club Rennes.
Gibraltar, Estonia and Armenia will have teams in a UEFA group stage for the first time with Lincoln Red Imps, Flora Tallinn and Alashkert starting their campaigns.
Europa League fixtures
Galatasaray vs Lazio (10:15 PM IST)
Lokomotiv Moscow vs Marseille (10:15 PM IST)
Dinamo Zagreb vs West Ham United (10:15 PM IST, Sony Ten 2 SD & HD)
Red Star Belgrade vs Sporting Braga (10:15 PM IST)
FC Midtjylland vs Ludogorets Razgrad (10:15 PM IST)
Real Betis vs Celtic (10:15 PM IST)
Rapid Vienna vs KRC Genk (10:15 PM IST)
Bayer Leverkusen vs Ferencvaros (10:15 PM IST)
Rangers vs Lyon (12:30 AM IST, Sony Ten 1 SD & HD)
Leicester vs Napoli (12:30 AM IST, Sony Ten 2 SD & HD)
Brondby IF vs Sparta Prague (12:30 AM IST)
Rangers vs Lyon (12:30 AM IST)
Monaco vs SK Sturm Graz (12:30 AM IST)
PSV Eindhoven vs Real Sociedad (12:30 AM IST)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Fenerbahce (12:30 AM IST)
Olympiakos vs Royal Antwerp (12:30 AM IST)
Europa Conference League fixtures
Kairat vs Omonoia (8 PM IST, Sony Ten 2 SD & HD)
Rennes vs Tottenham (10:15 PM IST, Sony Ten 1 SD & HD)
HJK Helsinki vs LASK (10:15 PM IST)
Flora v KAA Gent (10:15 PM IST)
Slavia Prague vs Union Berlin (10:15 PM IST)
Lincoln Red Imps vs PAOK (10:15 PM IST)
Slovan Bratislava vs FC Copenhagen (10:15 PM IST)
NS Mura vs Vitesse (10:15 PM IST)
FK Qarabag vs FC Basel (10:15 PM IST)
AS Roma vs CSKA Sofia (12:30 AM IST, Sony Ten 3 SD & HD)
Anorthosis Famagusta vs Partizan Belgrade (12:30 AM IST)
Bodo/Glimt vs Zorya Luhansk (12:30 AM IST)
FK Jablonec vs CFR Cluj (12:30 AM IST)
Randers FC vs AZ Alkmaar (12:30 AM IST)