8 Players to Watch in the Europa League

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterSeptember 18, 2013

8 Players to Watch in the Europa League

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    With the opening round of UEFA Europa League fixtures just around the corner, B/R takes a look at eight talented players you simply have to catch this year.

    Last season's competition illustrated the rise of talents such as Libor Kozak, Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah, but who will make a name for themselves this time around?

    We've picked out talents from Ukraine, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and more for you. 

Yevhen Konoplyanka, Dnipro

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    Yevhen Konoplyanka is Dnipro's rising star, quickly emerging from the shadows of Andriy Yarmolenko to take centre stage in Ukraine.

    This is the man who tore both Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker to pieces on international duty in the space of just 15 months, and if Ed Malyon of The Mirror is correct, he could well be a Premier League player inside the next year.

    He plays as an inverted winger off the left flank, boasts ridiculous pace and burst and can drill a shot into the top corner from 25 yards.

    Electric is the word. 

Bastian Oczipka, Eintracht Frankfurt

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    After last season's remarkable Bundesliga finish, Eintracht Frankfurt will now contest two competitions as they split their resources to cope with the UEFA Europa League.

    A marauading left-back by the name of Bastian Oczipka was a huge part of the threat Armin Veh's side carried last season, putting in consistently solid showings and getting forward extremely well.

    He whips in some pretty dangerous crosses and links with his winger brilliantly, prompting B/R's Allan Jiang to compare him (loosely) to Leighton Baines

Oriol Romeu, Valencia

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    Oriol Romeu has completely fallen off the world footballing map since his move to Chelsea.

    Andre Villas-Boas recruited him from Barcelona as an up-and-coming talent, but a horrific injury set his progress back more than six months.

    After failing to make a significant dent in the first team under Rafa Benitez and then Jose Mourinho, he was sent out to Valencia on loan to regain fitness, confidence and form.

    As usual, los Che hosted a firesale over the summer. In losing key assets, the Spaniards have seen themselves slip in the race for La Liga's top four (Real Sociedad's rise hasn't helped).

    Romeu should get plenty of playing time in Europe this year, and Chelsea fans will be eager to view his progression. 

Memphis Depay, PSV Eindhoven

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    Phillip Cocu is building something special at PSV Eindhoven, and his allowing of the raw, 19-year-old Memphis Depay to run riot on the left wing is indicative of his approach.

    The Dutch heavyweights are using experience sparingly, and instead relying on the club's excellent crop of young stars to forge a bond and carry them up the table.

    No single player epitomises this extremely plausible approach than Memphis, who is starting to rack up the games and nestle into the side.

    He shoots too often, is guilty of the occasional lapse in concentration and can get a little carried away, but boy is he fun to watch.

    Adam Maher, Georginio Wijnaldum and Zakaria Bakkali will also catch the eye. 

Andros Townsend, Tottenham Hotspur

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    You can take much of our analysis for Memphis Depay and correlate it to Andros Townsend.

    The nine-time loanee is finally making the grade at Tottenham Hotspur, but despite notching an early England call-up from Roy Hodgson, has a lot of refining to do in his game.

    He's ridiculously fast, very positive in his running and loves to take full-backs for a ride, but his end product is still in the making. That's fine, as he's still young at 22, and the Europa League will allow him to fearlessly cut his teeth this year. 

Aleksandar Dragovic, Dynamo Kiev

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    Dynamo Kiev have seriously bolstered their squad over the past two seasons, recruiting from central Europe in order to find well-established stars.

    They pulled off one of the deals of the summer in signing Aleksandar Dragovic from Basel, with the Austrian centre-back joining after some sensational showings in the Europa League last year.

    He's extremely calm considering his lack of experience and makes up for his small stature with a fantastic leap. Excellent with the ball at his feet, he formed a nice partnership with Fabian Schar last season and will hope to do the same in Kiev with Khacheridi. 

Alberto Moreno, Sevilla

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    Alberto Moreno shone during the U-21 European Championships this summer, nailing down the left-back berth in the Spanish side that claimed victory in Israel.

    He enjoyed decent exposure to the Sevilla first team last season and pushed Antonio Luna out on loan to Real Mallorca, combining decent defensive awareness with confident passing and rapier-like dribbles.

    With los Rojiblancos undergoing surgical squad changes this summer, he's now been thrust into the limelight as a key, established player.

    He, along with Coke at right-back, is definitely worth a glance. 

Nosa, Real Betis

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    Real Betis are on the up, and Pepe Mel has a real talent on his hands in the form of Nosa.

    The Nigerian holding midfielder is set to enjoy an expansive role this season despite his inexperience, and has made three starts in La Liga so far alongside Javier Matilla.

    Joan Verdu is the spectacular choice in the Beticos' lineup, while much has been made of Alvaro Vadillo's burgeoning, Cristiano Ronaldo-esque talent.

    However, at 22, Nosa will make a heavy first-team impact this season and is expected to improve exponentially.