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5 things to know before Europa League matches
Question of the Day
LONDON (AP) - The second leg of fixtures in the last 32 of the Europa League take place Thursday with the potential for some big names to be knocked out of the competition.
Lazio lost 1-0 at home to Bulgarian side Ludogorets, Tottenham was beaten by the same score away to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Ajax was trounced 3-0 at home by Salzburg.
The ties involving Napoli and Sevilla also delicately balanced.
ENGLISH TEAMS NEED GOALS
Swansea did well to hold Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home but will need to work even harder to find a way past the Italians’ defense at the Sao Paolo.
“In Italy it will be very difficult and I’m sure it will be an intimidating atmosphere,” defender Angel Rangel said. “We have to believe in ourselves because what we achieved last week in the first leg was a big achievement.”
Despite losing 4-3 to Liverpool on Sunday, scoring three times at Anfield in another impressive display should help to build Swansea’s confidence. Tottenham, which lost 1-0 to Norwich, will rely on home advantage to help it overturn the 1-0 deficit against Dnipro.
The winner of that tie could play Benfica, last year’s runner-up.
FOUR ITALIAN TEAMS IN ACTION
Aside from Napoli, Italy also has Serie A leader Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina in action on Thursday. Lazio trails Ludogorets by an away goal but Fiorentina and Juventus look more assured.
Fiorentina hit three first-half goals against Esbjerg in Denmark to win 3-1 and take control of that tie. In Turin, Juventus beat Trabzonspor 2-0 but coach Antonio Conte is aware of how tough the away trip to Turkey for the return leg could be.
“We’ll need to score as soon as possible because we’ll be playing in a heated atmosphere and qualification isn’t yet in the bag,” Conte said.
Should Juventus and Fiorentina come out of their games victorious, they will meet in the last 16.
By Mark Davis
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