UEFA Cup previews
Ferencvaros vs Basle
The group’s bottom two teams meet tonight knowing that defeat for either will end their European hopes.
This will be the first time the reigning champions of Hungary and Switzerland have met in a UEFA competition and both are searching for their first victory in the group.
Ferencvaros achieved a creditable 1-1 draw at home to Feyenoord in their first match but went down 2-0 to Schalke last week.
Basel, meanwhile, surprisingly lost 2-1 at home to Hearts last week having drawn 1-1 in their opening group match at table toppers Schalke.
Domestically, the Hungarians have been in devastating form, scoring nine goals in their last two league matches to put them three points clear at the top of the league.
Feyenoord vs Schalke
A win for Schalke will confirm them as group winners.
The Germans, playing their final match of the group stage, currently head the table by three points from Feyenoord after their 2-0 success over Ferencvaros last week.
Both teams have enjoyed recent success in this competition. The Dutch overcame Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in the 2002 final whilst Schalke were the last club to win the UEFA Cup when it was played in it’s two-legged final format, beating Inter in 1997.
Feyenoord have slipped to fourth spot in the Dutch league after a 2-2 home draw with Heerenveen at the weekend.
Athletic Bilbao vs Steaua Bucharest
This group is still completely wide open and any one of the five teams can still top the group.
Although Steaua currently head the table they know that they could still fail to qualify. A draw in Spain tonight will guarantee qualification and a win should ensure they progress as group winners.
Steaua come into the game on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw at the weekend with bottom club Poll AEK in the Romanian league.
The Spaniards, playing against Romanian opposition in a UEFA competition for the first time, beat Racing Santander 3-0 at the weekend.
Besiktas vs Standard Liege
With the group delicately poised a win for either team should take them through to the knockout stages.
Standard were hammered 4-1 at the weekend by Sint-Trulden in their domestic league and will want to get back to winning ways. They kept their European hopes alive last week with a 2-1 win over Parma.
The Turkish side went down 2-1 to group leaders Steaua and with their final game a tricky one at Parma – still also chasing qualification – they will want to register three points this evening.
Austria Vienna vs Club Brugge
It looks like being a battle for second and third spot in Group C. The Ukranian team Dnipro seem to have sealed top spot with three consecutive wins although they could still be overtaken if they lose at Real Zaragoza this evening.
Austria went down 1-0 at Dnipro last week but got back to winning ways with a 1-0 win at Bregenz on Sunday to keep them just two points behind Rapid Vienna in the Austrian league.
Club Brugge, meanwhile, kick-started their UEFA campaign with a 1-0 victory at home to Utrecht last week. They had previously lost 3-2 at Dnipro.
The clubs previously met in the second round of the 1992/93 European Cup. On that occasion Club Brugge progressed on away goals after a 2-0 home win followed a 3-1 defeat in Vienna. Foeke Booy, coach of Club Brugge’s opponents last week, Utrecht, scored the second goal of that first leg win.
Real Zaragoza vs Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
The Ukranians have already qualified but will also wrap up top-spot in the group with a point this evening. The only team in the group with a 100 per cent record, Dnipro have so far bellied their domestic form that sees them lying mid-table and 16 points behind the leaders Shakhtar with almost half the season played in Ukraine.
Zaragoza, winners of the old 1994/95 UEFA Cup Winners Cup as Arsenal fans and goalkeeper David Seaman will painfully recall, won their opening match of the group against Utrecht 2-0 but then lost to Austria Vienna 1-0.
A win tonight for the Spaniards will mean they can still qualify as group leaders with a win in the final game in Belgium against Club Brugge.
This will be the first time Zaragoza have met a team from either the old Soviet Union or from the Ukraine.
Panionios vs Dinamo Tbilisi
The Greeks can keep their European season alive this evening but realistically must win.
However a draw here in Athens and a win for Sochaux at Sporting Lisbon would see both Panionios and the Georgian team bow out.
Dinamo are the last remaining team in the competition from the first qualifying round but have the worst record of any team in the UEFA Cup with no points or goals from three games. Their terrible goal difference means that even with a victory tonight they are likely to be eliminated.
The Georgians recent domestic form has been excellent with two victories yielding nine goals. The Greek side, meanwhile, have slipped to eighth in their own league with back-to-back goal-less draws.
A win tonight would set-up a final match showdown with Sochaux that Paniosios would need to win in order to qualify.
Sporting Lisbon vs Sochaux
Sporting Lisbon have been in devastating goal-scoring form of late, scoring eight goals in their first two group matches and 12 in their last three domestic fixtures.
The French team, however, have had a bad week. After suffering a 4-0 home defeat at the hands of group leaders Newcastle, they then fell eleven points behind league leaders Lyon in the French league with a 2-1 loss at home to Lens.
Sporting will secure qualification with a point this evening although only a mathematical disaster over their next two games would deny them a place with the six points they already have.
A win or draw for Sporting tonight will see the group leadership decided in their final game at Newcastle.
Victory for Sochaux should see them safely through depending on the outcome of the Panionios-Dinamo game.