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FOLLOW LIVE: Man United, Southampton kick off Europa League group stage

Manchester United v Southampton - Premier League

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United gives the thumbs up after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on August 19, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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The group stage of the 2016-17 Europa League kicks off on Thursday, with a pair of Premier League sides — Manchester United and Southampton — in action abroad and at home.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Thursday’s Europa League action ]

After finishing fifth in the PL last season, Man United are once again in European competition — only, they’ll be playing their games on Thursdays rather than Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Jose Mourinho won the Europa League (then called the UEFA Cup) with Porto back in the 2002-03 season. That same side won the Champions League a season later, also under Mourinho. Wayne Rooney has been left out of the 20-man squad for the group stage, perhaps figuring they can advance to the knockout stage while giving him a rest.

Right after the Red Devils finish up elsewhere on the continent, Saints will take on Sparta Prague, last season’s runners-up in the Czech first division. PST’s lead writer and editor, Joe Prince-Wright, will be on the scene at St. Mary’s Stadium.

Today’s notable Europa League fixtures

Feyenoord vs. Manchester United — 1 p.m. ET
Southampton vs. Sparta Prague — 3:05 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Roma — 1 p.m. ET
Inter Milan vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva — 3:05 p.m. ET
PAOK vs. Fiorentina — 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal vs. FC Zurich — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sassuolo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Schalke — 3:05 p.m. ET
Mainz vs. Saint-Etienne — 1 p.m. ET

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