The UEFA cup second round resumes with several ties delicately balanced after the firstleg matches.
Italian giants Lazio travel to Belgrade protecting a slender one-goal advantage. Coach Roberto Mancini is also facing something of a player revolt as his side prepares to face Crvena Zvezda.
Key Yugoslavian players Dejan Stankovic and Sinisa Mihailovic have expressed their reservations about facing their former club.
Stankovic said: “Honestly, I hope I don’t play. But if Mancini wants me to play, I will give my best for Lazio. I just don’t know what I’ll do if I score.”
Lazio will play veteran keeper Marchgiani ahead of Peruzzi. The side formerly known as Red Star Belgrade, Crvena Zvezda, have no injury worries ahead of the tie.
Serie A’s Parma, also face a daunting trip as they travel to Poland with the tie in the balance. Wisla Krakow will feel confident that they can overturn their 2-1 defeat in Italy. Neither side have injury concerns, though it is likely that Bresciano will replace the out-of-form Nakata in the Parma side, and match-winner Adrian Mutu will be partnered by the fit again Adriano.
Parma coach Cesare Prandelli is certainly not taking the game lightly:
“We have to be really careful because a 2-1 lead can be dangerous.”
Bundesliga Werder Bremen will certainly be aware of that, as they seek to overturn the same scoreline as they entertain Dutch side Vitesse Arnheim.
However, Werder’s coach Klaus Allofs, has substantially and publicly increased the pressure on his side.
“We can have no excuses if we fail to go through. This is Vitesse we’re talking about after all, not Ajax or PSV”, he said.
The confident German will be without the services of Kristzian Lisztes and Frank Verlaat for the tie against a muscular and determined Vitesse side. Scalke 04 are confident they will defend their one-goal advantage over Legia Warsaw in Dortmund.
Coach Frank Neubarth will field a full strength side: “Choosing this game to provide match-practice for fringe-players would send out the wrong signal and be a recipe for disaster.”
Their opponents are unbeaten in 36 domestic league games and are unchanged from the first leg tie.
While Spanish sides continue their serene progress in the Champions League, Alaves will face a difficult task to make the UEFA Cup third round draw. A last minute equaliser from Fernando Abelardo was all they could manage against an impressive Beskitas side in the Basque country.
Despite his side’s superiority in the first leg, the Turkish side’s coach, Mircea Lucescu, has ensured his side are well prepared.
He said: “Alaves will do whatever necessary to proceed. They are a much better side away from home. Therefore the game will not be an easy one.”
Spain’s other representatives are all defending advantages. Celta Vigo travel to Norway three goals up, Real Betis will entertain Vitoria Zizkov in Seville with a 1-0 victory secured in the away game, and Malaga progressed to the third roundon Tuesday evening.
In the all-British tie, Celtic are confident they can maintain their slender 1-0 advantage over Blackburn,despite being outplayed for long periods in the home leg.
Comments made after that game by Blackburn manager, Graeme Souness, will be used by Celtic coach Martin O’Neill to motivate his side. Former Rangers boss Souness, stated it had been “men against boys” in the Parkhead tie.
O’Neil replied: “The comments emanating from the Blackburn dressing room have given us further motivation to go and do what we can to win the game.”
A full strength Celtic squad has made the journey south. With 11 goals in 5 games, Welsh international striker John Hartson may start the game for the hoops alongside Henrik Larsson and Blackburn old-boy Chris Sutton. Parkhead contract rebel Stilian Petrov is also likely to return to the fray.
Blackburn will again be without the services of combative captain Gary Flitcroft. The midfielder, suspended for Saturday’s Premiership game, picked up a training ground injury and will miss the game. Souness is confident that he will be unable to unleash winger Damien Duff on the Scottish defence. The Republic of Ireland international returns after an injury lay-off.
The atmosphere at Ewood Park is likely to be intimidating. In contrast it is likely that Leeds United will play in front of a sparsely populated stadium for their second leg tie with Hapoel Tel Aviv. The match has been switched from Israel to Florence for safety reasons.
Leeds lead 1-0 from the first leg, but travel without, Dominic Matteo, Jonathon Woodgate and Olivier Dacourt through injury and Marc Viduka and Lee Mills for personal reasons.
Michael Duberry will partner Lucas Radebe in defence, while the tempestuous striker Alan Smith will lead the attack.
Fulham have a comfortable three-goal advantage as they entertain Croatian side Dynamo Zagreb. Louis Saha will not play again until January as he recovers from a hamstring operation.
Ipswich travel to Slovenia protecting a one-goal advantage from the tie at Portman Road. Manager Joe Royle will rest Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller and Mark Venus, though striker Alun Armstrong will start.
Elsewhere in the UEFA cup the city of Porto flies the Portuguese flag. The country had no representation in the group stages of the Champions League and the two sides from northern Portugal are hoping to restore some pride to the nation.
A resurgent FC Porto, without a league title in three years, are confident their young side will progress against an Austria Vienna team they defeated 2-1 in the first leg. Meanwhile, cross-city rivals Boavista defend an identical score in Cyprus.
Fixtures (1st leg scores in brackets)
Schalke v Legia (3-2)
Viking v Celta (0-3)
Crvena v Zvezda Lazio (0-1)
Besiktas v Alaves (1-1)
Blackburn v Celtic (0-1)
Midtjylland v Anderlecht (1-3)
Anorthosis v Boavista (1-2)
PSG v National (2-0)
Panathinaikos v Fenerbahce (1-1)
Betis v Viktoria Zizkov (1-0)