- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Inter Milan is looking to bounce back from a 4-1 home thrashing by Cagliari last weekend when the Serie A side hosts Azerbaijani club Qarabag in the Europa League on Thursday.

Inter got off to a good start in Group F with a win at Dnipro in its opening match. Holder Sevilla is looking for a second straight win in Group G at Croatia’s HNK Rijeka.

Here are some things to know about this week’s matches:



Of Spain’s two Europa League participants, Sevilla appears to have the tougher match on Thursday. Rijeka is unbeaten in nine European matches, having won six of them. Sevilla is currently fourth in the Spanish league, one point ahead of Real Madrid, after four victories. Rijeka twice drew with Sevilla’s crosstown rival Real Betis in the group stage last season. Also in Group G, Feyenoord hosts Standard Liege.

Spain’s other Europa League team, Villarreal, is at home to Apollon in Group A. Apollon will be without the suspended Marcos Gullon, who went through Villarreal’s youth teams before playing for the club from 2010 to 2012.



Facing Dnipro in Group F should bring back happy memories for Saint-Etienne’s older fans. The last time the French club faced a Ukrainian team, it went on to reach the European Cup final. That was in 1976 when Saint-Etienne defeated Dynamo Kiev in the Champions Cup quarterfinals before losing in the final to Bayern Munich.

Glory days are distant memories for Saint-Etienne, but Les Verts’ good start to the season has raised fans’ hopes of success in Europe’s second-tier competition.

Saint-Etienne, which has 10 league titles to its name, one more than Marseille, will be boosted by the return of captain Loic Perrin against Dnipro after he recovered from a thigh injury.

Coach Christophe Galtier has made the Europa League a priority this season and is expected to use several key players he rested at Marseille over the weekend, including midfielders Jeremy Clement and Franck Tabanou.



Ahead of its home game against Lille, Wolfsburg is already feeling the heat in Group H after losing the opener to Everton. “The best thing is to win all three home games. That’s how you get close to advancing,” managing director Klaus Allofs said. “We are already under pressure.”

Lille comes with Denmark defender Simon Kjaer, who was offloaded by Wolfsburg to the French club a year ago.

“I think Simon is one of the reasons Lille concedes so few goals,” Allofs said. The defender played 63 matches for Wolfsburg but was often criticized for inconsistent play and Allofs sold him to Lille at about the fifth of the estimated fee of 12 million euros ($15 million) that Wolfsburg paid for him. “He’s become more consistent now,” Allofs said.



Napoli captain Marek Hamsik is looking forward to facing the club where he began his professional career when the Italian side visits Slovan Bratislava.

Hamsik spent two seasons with Bratislava before moving to Italy with Brescia in 2004. He has been with Napoli since 2007.

“It’s going to be a special match for me,” Hamsik said, adding that about 50 friends and family members will be going to the game from his hometown of Banska Bystrica.

Napoli has had a difficult start to the season, having lost a Champions League playoff to Athletic Bilbao and won just two of its opening five Serie A matches - putting the job of coach Rafa Benitez at risk.

“We know there are still things to improve. I think we’re just getting into winning form,” Hamsik said following a 1-0 win over Sassuolo at the weekend. “For now we’re focused exclusively on Bratislava and we’re not underestimating them, even though I know they’re not having the best of times.”


SPURS SEEK VICTORY AFTER DERBY DRAW Tottenham has been in mixed form ahead of Besiktas’ visit to White Hart Lane in Group C. Spurs won only once in September, in the League Cup against second-tier Nottingham Forest, and will be looking to kickstart their European campaign following a 0-0 draw with Partizan.

Tottenham will be without Kyle Walker, who has yet to recover from a pelvic injury, while fullback Danny Rose is doubtful after coming off the pitch in last Saturday’s creditable 1-1 draw at Arsenal.

Spurs captain Younes Kaboul is hoping his side can reproduce their weekend form on Thursday.

“If we play the same way we did at Arsenal, we should have no problems. But we need to repeat that performance,” Kaboul said.

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