The UEFA Europa League group stage fixtures are all set to get underway on Thursday, and we have some interesting matches on our hands. Let’s take a look at a few of the most a mouthwatering fixtures, this midweek.
Rubin Kazan (RUS) v Liverpool FC (ENG)
Liverpool will look to carry over the momentum from Saturday’s 3-1 win over Chelsea when they travel to Rubin Kazan. A Philippe Coutinho brace plus a late Christian Benteke strike gave Jurgen Klopp his first Premier League victory, but the challenge is to repeat the trick in Europe after three successive draws in Group B. “It’s a step in the right direction but it’s important we don’t get carried away,” midfielder Adam Lallana told the Liverpool Echo. “We need to rise to the challenge (in Russia) to keep this unbeaten run going.” Defeat for the Reds in Kazan — a fate suffered by Chelsea, Tottenham and Wigan on previous visits — would put them in a perilous position.
Borussia Dortmund (GER) v Qabala (AZE)
Borussia Dortmund can clinch their place in the knockout rounds with a home win over Azerbaijani side Qabala in Group C coupled with a Krasnodar victory against PAOK. Dortmund trimmed Bayern Munich’s lead in the Bundesliga to five points over the weekend and host bitter rivals Schalke on Saturday but, despite the growing sense of anticipation ahead of the Ruhr derby, coach Thomas Tuchel won’t allow his players to get ahead of themselves. “Obviously we are really looking forward to (Saturday’s) match. However, on Thursday we want to ensure our progression from the group stages – and our full focus is on that right now,” Tuchel told the club website.
Napoli (ITA) v Midtjylland (DEN)
Three points at home to second-placed Midtjylland would guarantee Napoli’s passage into the round of 32, while the Italians would also progress should the other Group D match between Club Brugge and Legia Warsaw finish level. A goalless draw at Genoa denied Napoli the chance to move top of Serie A at the weekend but Maurizio Sarri will be expecting his players to rediscover the form that enabled them to crush the Danes 4-1 two weeks ago, upping the Neapolitans’ tally to a competition-best 11 goals.
Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) v Anderlecht (BEL)
Tottenham will seek to avenge a matchday three 2-1 defeat in Brussels when they host Anderlecht in a repeat of the 1984 UEFA Cup final. Spurs have struggled to translate their strong domestic form — Mauricio Pochettino’s men stretched their unbeaten run in the Premier League to 10 matches with Monday’s 3-1 victory over scuffling Aston Villa — into success on the continent but their Argentine coach is confident the north Londoners are making meaningful progress. “The team is growing, maturing. We are still young and we need to improve. It’s a good achievement, but to be honest, it (10 matches unbeaten) means nothing because we are ambitious and we want to win the next game,” Pochettino said.
Celtic (SCO) v Molde (NOR)
Celtic will bank on their strong European home form to help turn around their Group A campaign, with two points from three matches having left the Scots bottom of the pack. It was an unhappy return to Norway for coach Ronny Deila as Celtic slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Molde last time out. The Scottish champions will likely also have to make do without captain Scott Brown through injury. Speaking of his side’s predicament, Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata said: “Do we expect to have to win three games? Of course, but they are three difficult games.” Leaders Molde could qualify with a win as long as Ajax fail to beat Fenerbahce.
By AFP .