Egaleo vs Lazio
Lazio have to win this match in order to have any chance of progressing to the next round, even then though both Vilarreal and Partizan Belgrade are better placed to join group leaders Middlesbrough as the three qualifiers.
Just two points from their first three games have left the Italian giants, winners of the 1999 UEFA Cup Winners Cup, on the verge of elimination.
The Greeks, meanwhile, are one of only two sides left in the tournament yet to score a goal in the competition. Defeats at home to Middlesbrough, 1-0, and away to Partizan, 4-0, see them rooted to the bottom of the table.
It is Egaleo’s first ever UEFA club competition and they need to win this evening to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knock-out stage. Victory tonight will leave them needing to overcome Villarreal in Spain on 15 December to qualify.
Partizan Belgrade vs Villarreal
Victory for either of these teams, both currently unbeaten, will move them to the top of table ahead of Middlesbrough.
However, should Lazio and Egaleo draw in the group’s other game in Greece then both Partizan and Villarreal will qualify irrespective of tonight’s result in Belgrade.
Villarreal overcame Middlesbrough 2-0 last week to add to a 1-1 draw they achieved away to Lazio. With their final game at home to bottom-of-the-table Egaleo the Spanish side will be confident of winning the table if they can overcome the team from the Serbo-Montenegrin capital this evening.
Domestically, Lazio lost at home to Cagliari on Saturday and are struggling this season – currently lying sixth from bottom of the Italian league.
By contrast, after 14 league games Partizan remain unbeaten. They lead their domestic championship by three points and have conceded just seven goals.
AZ Alkmaar vs Rangers
Only three clubs remain in the competition with 100 per cent records and two of them meet this evening in Holland.
Rangers currently top Group F due to their vastly superior goal difference. They have yet to concede a goal so far and know victory over AZ will virtually clinch the group.
Similarly, though, a win for the Dutch side will leave them just needing to draw in Austria in two weeks time against Grazer AK to secure qualification as group winners.
While AZ will be meeting Scottish opposition for the first time, Rangers have met Dutch opposition on several occasions. The club have also benefited from considerable Dutch influence in recent seasons – their current international midfielder Fernando Ricksen was actually signed from Alkmaar and their previous title winning boss was Dick Advocaat, ex-Holland manager.
Rangers come into the game on a real high having recently displaced archrivals Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League.
AZ are also having a very successful domestic campaign but, despite just one league defeat all season, they sit second and trail PSV Eindhoven by five points. Their most successful UEFA Cup season was back in 1980/81 when they were runners up to Bobby Robson’s Ipswich Town side over a two-legged final.
Auxerre vs Amica Wronki
The French team must realistically win this match to keep their hopes of qualification alive. Whilst a draw would still make it mathematically possible to progress, Auzerre’s final group game will be a tough trip to group leaders Rangers.
Defeat will eliminate them along with the visiting Polish side, who have had a disastrous competition. Amica have all lost all three of their games to-date, including a 5-0 home loss to Rangers and back-to-back 3-1 defeats to Grazer AK and AZ Almaar.
Auxerre are still searching for their first goal of the competition after a 2-0 defeat to AZ and a scoreless home draw with Grazer. Their recent French league form has been poor too – consecutive defeats has seen them slip to fourth in the table, 11 points behind leaders Lyon.
Coach Guy Roux, a former player with the club, has been coach at the club now for 42 years.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Heerenveen
It looks like these two clubs will be battling for the third and final qualification spot in Group G. With Benfica, taking on bottom club Beveren in the group’s other match this evening, and Stuggart both already leading the way with two wins and six points apiece, the game in the Croatician capital is pivotal to deciding the group’s qualifiers.
Dinamo’s 6-1 victory over Beveren in their first match could also prove crucial should goal difference prove decisive.
Heerenveen have previously played against only one other Croatian team. In the 1998/99 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup they went out to NK Varteks over two legs.
Both sides come into the game having had an indifferent few weeks domestically. The Dutch side come into the match today on the back of a 2-2 draw with Feyenoord at the weekend and now lie fifth. The Croats, meanwhile, beat Inter 2-0 and also lie fifth in the Croatian First League.
Beveren vs Benfica
Benfica know that victory in Belgium tonight will confirm their place in the knockout stage of the competition.
Meanwhile, anything but a victory for Beveren will see them eliminated after just three games in the group.
The Belgians have had a horrendous UEFA Cup campaign to-date, losing 5-1 at home to Stuggart and then 6-1 in Croatia to Dinamo Zagreb.
The Portugese outfit have slipped to third spot in their domestic league after failing to win in the last three and on Saturday they lost 1-0 at mid-table Leiria. A draw this evening will actually ensure qualification but they will want to win to take spot in the table.
Alemancia Aachen vs Zenit St. Petersburg
German second-division outfit Aachen will be playing against Russian opposition for the first time this evening. They qualified for the competition after losing last season’s DFB-Pokal final with Werder Bremen and opened their group matches with a 1-0 win over Lille. They then lost 1-0 in Sevilla though and must realistically take at least a point this evening to retain hopes of qualification.
The Russians recently finished their already concluded domestic season in fourth spot and have lost all four previous encounters with German opposition in UEFA competitions. It is their final match of the group and defeat tonight, combined with a wine for Sevilla against AEK Athens, will see them eliminated. Similarly, a draw would give them just five points in the group which would probably not be enough to see them through to the next stage.
Sevilla vs AEK Athens
AEK Athens must win tonight to stay in the competition. Sevilla, meanwhile, could move to the top of the group with a victory to set-up a final match decider with Lille in two weeks time to determine the group winners.
The Spanish club lost 4-1 at Osasuna at the weekend in the Spanish league but are Group H’s only unbeaten side. An opening game 2-0 victory at home to Alemancia Aachen and a 1-1 draw against Zenit St. Petersburg leaves them well placed to progress to the next stage of the competition.
They will be buoyed by the knowledge that they have a 100 per cent record in ties against Greek clubs in Europe, and the fact that AEK have not won a UEFA tie on Spanish soil in six attempts.
AEK have so far been beaten 5-1 by Zenit and 2-1 at home to Lille.
Whilst struggling in this competition, at home AEK are top of the Greek league. Unbeaten in nine matches they have conceded just four goals to-date.