Thursday 20 September 2012
Barclays Premier League clubs will begin their attempt to have an English team in the UEFA Europa League final for the second time in four seasons when the competition gets under way on Thursday.
Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Liverpool are all in action with Lazio, Maritimo and Young Boys their respective opponents in matchweek one.
Spurs will be without striker Emmanuel Adebayor for the Group J tie against 1998 finalists Lazio at White Hart Lane because of a hamstring injury while France captain Hugo Lloris is set to make his debut in goal since signing from Lyon.
"The memories are still present but at this time I can't live off the past"
Head coach Andre Villas-Boas won the competition with Porto in 2011 with a 1-0 victory over Braga and the Portuguese says he is determined to repeat the feat with his new club.
"It does seem a long time since I won it with Porto," he said. "A lot of things have happened since then. The memories are still present but at this time I can't live off the past.
"In our position we can't think too much about the past. In this life you constantly have to motivate yourself and put pressure on yourself to win more [trophies].
"This time it would be wonderful to win it again for Tottenham."
Tottenham will also be without the injured Younes Kaboul, Scott Parker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto but Villas-Boas believes his side still have the quality to make it through to the knockout stages.
"The squad has a lot of players we cannot count on," he said. "But we have 18 available and between them we have enough quality to take us through the initial stages of the competition."
"This is a competition that we would like to do very well in, so we're certainly not dismissing it"
With the eagerly anticipated Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester United taking place on Sunday, Liverpool have left out a host of experienced players for the Group A match against Young Boys.
Captain Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Martin Kelly have not made the trip to Switzerland while youngsters such as Samed Yesil, Suso, Andre Wisdom and Conor Coady are included in the squad.
"I'm very much looking forward to the game," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. "We've got a squad who can win the game, or certainly get a good result, and I'm very confident we can do that.
"I'm always excited to see young players because you never actually know how they will do until you put them in a particular situation.
"This is a competition that we would like to do very well in, so we're certainly not dismissing it. I've brought young players [here] who I feel, from what I have seen in the early part of the season, can come in and contribute. I know they've got talent, the question now is can they come into the first team and fight? That's what we're looking for."
Newcastle United travel to Portugal for their Group D tie against Maritimo on the back of Monday night's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw against Everton.
The Magpies will be without strikers Papiss Cisse, who is ill, and Demba Ba so 17-year-old Adam Campbell, who became Newcastle's youngest player to appear in a European fixture when making his debut against Atromitos in the qualifying round, comes into the squad.
"We have got to make sure we stay in the game and hopefully sneak a win"
Yohan Cabaye and Jonas Gutierrez are not included while Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor and Cheick Tiote are injured.
"It's a tough game," said Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew. "They got a good result on Sunday against Sporting Lisbon and they are a good defensive side, so it's going to be hard to crack them in terms of getting goals against them.
"We have got to make sure we stay in the game and hopefully sneak a win and get three points on the board."
This year's Europa League final will take place at the Amsterdam Arena on 15th May, 2013.
Group A: Liverpool, Udinese, Young Boys, Anzhi Makhachkala.
Group B: Atletico Madrid, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Plzen, Academica.
Group C: Marseille, Fenerbahce, Borusia Moenchengladbach, AEL Limassol
Group D: Bordeaux, Club Brugge, Newcastle United, Maritimo.
Group E: Stuttgart, FC Copenhagen, Steuau Bucharest, Molde.
Group F: PSV Eindhoven, Napoli, Dnipro, AIK Solna.
Group G: Sporting, FC Basel, Genk, Videoton.
Group H: Inter Milan, Rubin Kazan, FK Partizan, Neftci.
Group I: Lyon, Athletic Bilbao, Sparta Prague, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona.
Group J: Tottenham Hotspur, Panathinaikos, Lazio, Maribor.
Group K: Bayer Leverkusen, Metalist Kharkiv, Rosenborg, Rapid Vienna.
Group L: FC Twente, Hannover, Levante, Helsingborgs.
Sept 20 Maritimo (A); Oct 4 Bordeaux (H); Oct 25 Club Brugge (H); Nov 8 Club Brugge (A); Nov 22 Maritimo (H); Dec 6 Bordeaux (A).
Sept 20 Young Boys (A); Oct 4 Udinese (H); Oct 25 Anzhi (H); Nov 8 Anzhi (A); Nov 22 Young Boys (H); Dec 6 Udinese (A).
Sept 20 Lazio (H); Oct 4 Panathinaikos (A); Oct 25 Maribor (A); Nov 8 Maribor (H); Nov 22 Lazio (A); Dec 6 Panathinaikos (H).