UEFA Cup 3rd round 1st leg
Dynamo Kiev v Villarreal
Dynamo enter the competition after crashing out of the Champions League. Midfielder Diogo Rincon has urged team-mates to focus on their defensive duties as they face a tough tie against one of Spain’s leading teams.
“The most important thing is not to concede a goal,” he said. “However, a scoreless draw is not something we should aim for as Villarreal can make any team nervous at their ground.”
Kiev are missing two key players in playmaker Valentin Belkevich and defender Goran Gavrancic. Villarreal are missing Josico, Quique Alvarez and Antonio Guayre. Sebastian Battaglia has returned from a thigh muscle injury but is now struggling with a knee problem. Gabriel Figueroa misses out due to gastroenteritis.
Grazer AK v Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough boss Steve McLaren has warned his side they face a tough challenge from the Austrian champions.
“I’ve seen them quite a few times and they’re organised and hard working, very fit and athletic,” said McLaren. “They have one or two players who can turn a game.”
Bolo Zenden and Ray Parlour return to a side that is still missing Mark Viduka, Malcolm Christie, Ugo Ehiogu, Gaizka Mendieta and George Boateng. ‘Boro must also beware of the weather tonight as temperatures are expected to drop as low as minus 15 degrees at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium.
GAK are in the middle of their domestic break but are still struggling with injuries. Gregor Potscher and Emanuel Pogatetz are out while Joachim Standfest, Gernot Sick and Martin Amerhauser will only start on the bench after recent fitness problems. Latvian defender Imants Bleidelis will make his debut.
Fenerbahce v Real Zaragoza
Coach Christoph Daum has urged his Fenerbahce team to maintain the standards they set when they beat Manchester United 3-0 before Christmas.
“I have warned my players that they must repeat their performance in the United game,” said Daum. “Zaragoza are in 12th place in Primera Division but they deserve better if you look at the quality of their squad. We have to use the advantage of playing in front of our home crowd to defeat them.”
Zaragoza have suffered a set back with the news that centre-half Cesar Jimenez will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Goalkeeper Cesar Lainez returns.
Aachen v Alkmaar
Aachen have a number a key players missing for tonight’s first-leg in Cologne. Moses Sichone is suspended while Cristian Fiel and Florian Bruns are injured. Jens Scharping is ill. Midfielder Reiner Plasshenrich may return after knee trouble.
Alkmaar are hoping that captain Denny Landzaat will recover from flu in time to play. Kenneth Perez definitely misses out with the same virus. Defender Juha Reini has a thigh injury, so teenagers Haris Medunjanin and Ron Vlaar are added to the squad.
Basle v Lille
The Swiss league leaders Basle haven’t played since December 11 and face a strong Lille team who are second in the French league. Coach Christian Gross is without the injured Murat Yakin but new signing Reto Zanni should feature.
Lille are without midfield pair Christophe Landrin and Jean Makoun. Defender Rafael Schmitz is suspended. Tony Sylva, Milenko Acimovic and Benoit Angbwa were rested for last weekend’s win against Lens in the French Cup but should return for tonight’s game.
Heerenveen v Newcastle United
Newcastle boss Graeme Souness is still under pressure despite a run that has seen them lose just once in the last eight games, away at Arsenal.
He claims that he is paying the price for Newcastle’s 36 years wait for a trophy.
“This is a massive club with huge expectations, I’d like to be judged at the end of next season, but I know how the game works,” said Souness.
The fiery Scot goes into the game knowing that the next 10 days will shape Newcastle’s season, as they face tonight’s first leg in Holland and Chelsea in the FA cup on Sunday with the return second leg at St. James’s Park next week.
Kieron Dyer did not travel with the squad as he has an illness. Midfield anchorman Nicky Butt is out with a twisted ankle and £8 Million man Jean Alain Boumsong is cup-tied having played for Rangers in the same competition earlier this season.
Heerenveen received a boost ahead of the game with the news that leading scorer Klaas Jan Huntelaar is fit. Arnold Bruggink has overcome flu but centre-back Marcel Seip is out with a foot injury.
CSKA Moscow v Benfica
CSKA go into tonight’s game heavily depleted through suspensions, injuries and player sales during January’s transfer window.
Sergei Semark departed for Paris St. Germain while Jiri Jarosik joined up with Premiership leaders Chelsea. On the injury front, Croatian striker Ivica Olic is still out and Deividas Semberas and Yuri Zhirkov are both suspended.
Benfica coach Giovanni Trapattoni has revealed that he will start with the same team, which played against SC Braga on Saturday; so fit again Miguel must be content with a place on the bench. Simao Sabrosa, Geovanni and Nuno Gomes will play up front.
Olympiakos v Sochaux
Greek leaders Olympiakos are without five key players for tonight’s first leg game. Regular centre-backs Gabriel Schurrer and Geogios Anatolakis are suspended, left-back Stylianos Venetidis and winger Georgios Georgiadis are out for the season with knee ligament damage while striker Giovanni is out with dental problems.
Sochaux are not without their own problems. Midfielder Wilson Oruma and defender Ibrahim Tall are out injured while striker Ilan has failed to overcome a groin injury and fellow front man Jaouad Zairi is out following a car crash. 17-year-old Jeremy Menez could step in.