Europa League gets the stage to itself this week. Normally relegated to the Thursday after Champions League action, UEFA's second tournament moves half its matches to Wednesday, with the region's marque tournament resuming next week. That gives us four times over two days to enjoy a tournament that normally crams 16 matches into a four hour window.
The match day starts at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, featuring six matches highlighted by Anderlecht's trip to St. Petersburg to take on Zenit and PSV's visit to Sampdoria. Then at 3:05 p.m. Eastern, most eyes will turn to Manchester and City's match against Salzberg, while some will look to Poznan and Juventus's visit to Lech or Madrid, where holders Atlético host Greece's Aris.
At Thursday's early kick-off time (again, 1:00 p.m. Eastern), CSKA Moscow looks to stay perfect against visiting Lausanne Sports (Switzerland), while Porto's visit to Rapid Wien and Borussia Dortmund's visit from Ukraine's Karpaty will give Germany's leaders a chance to start salvaging their knockout round changes. At 3:05 p.m. Eastern, Palermo has a must win match against visiting Sparta Parha, while Villareal will be looking to climb from their in their group against group leading Dinamo Zagreb.
Here are the fixture lists of the fifth round of UEFA Europa League action:
Lech and City are atop the group with seven points each, meaning wins by each will put them into the knock-out round, with Lech's sixth round match with Salzberg giving them the inside track on first place. Juventus has drawn all four of their group stage matches. Even with a win, they'll likely need a result against City in round six to get through the group.
Atlético Madrid (Spain) versus Aris (Greece), Wednesday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
Rosenborg (Norway) versus Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Wednesday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
Bayer's one point lead in group could turn into a one or two point deficit after today's matches, though both Atlético and Bayer are likely to clinch knockout stage places. The second place Atleti are three points ahead of Aris. With a win over their Greek visitors, they'll send both themselves and Bayer through.
Sporting is four points clear of Lille at the top of the group, and having already won in France, they Portuguese club ware likely to clinch the group. That would put the winner of Gent and Levski in second place, if there is a winner. Levski won the first meeting 3-2, but Gent's last Europa League match was a 3-1 win over previously unbeaten Sporting.
Villareal (Spain) versus Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Thursday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
POAK (Greece) versus Club Brugge (Belgium), Thursday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
Dinamo and POAK come into the day one point ahead of Villareal, in third on six points. The Yellow Submarine can take control of the group with a win today, closing group play at disappointing Brugge. POAK need a win over the Belgians, still facing a trip to Zagreb.
Sheriff (Moldova) versus AZ (Netherlands), Thursday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
BATE (Belarus) versus Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Thursday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
The group's top two meet in Belarus, with BATE having already take a point in Kyiv. With neither Sheriff nor AZ making much of an impact on this group, this could be Dynamo's only chance to make up the three points separating them, on seven, with group leading BATE at ten. If Dynamo does win, Sheriff and AZ are eliminated, with Dynamo ownig the tiebreaker over BATE.
CSKA Moscow (Russia) versus Laussane Sports (Switzerland), Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Palermo (Italy) versus Sparta Praha (Czech Republic), Thursday, 3:05 p.m. Eastern
CSKA is perfect through four rounds and host a Lausanne club whose only point came after Silvio's stoppage time equalizer got them a point in Praha. With CSKA having given up one with allowing 12 in this tournament, look for the Red Army club to clinch group. Sparta comes into their match with a four point lead on Palermo and can advance with a draw.
Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia) versus Anderlecht (Beligum), Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Hajduk Split (Croatia) versus AEK (Greece), Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Russia's newly crowned champions have already won this group, sitting on a perfect 12 points. Anderlecht, second place with four points, sit second, seeing a win to make sure they're not passed by either AEK or Hajduk Split. AEK won the teams' initial meeting in Greece, 3-1, but have recorded only one point in the succeeding three matches.
Young Boys (Switzerland) versus Stuttgart (Germany), Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
OB (Denmark) versus Getafe (Spain), Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
What is it about German teams? Like Schalke in Champions League, Stuttgart has been horrible in league but great in Europe. The relegation-embattled club is perfect through four rounds. A draw over second play Young Boys, a team they beat 3-0 in Bern, will clinch first place. If the Swiss club doesn't get three points, they will be tied with a winner of OB-Getafe, both teams carrying three points into their match in Odense.
Metalist (Ukraine) versus Debrecen (Hungary), Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Sampdoria (italy) versus PSV (Netherlands), Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Sampdoria will need a win over Netherlands' leaders, given Metalist should get a victory over visiting Debrecen, who've yet to record a point. Samp coming into the match trailing Metalist by two points for second place, and sitting five points behind group leading PSV, Giampaulo Pazzini must find a way to keep-up with the prolific Dutch team. Metalist, having won 5-0 at Debrecen, should move to ten points.
Borussia Dortmund (Germany) versus Karpaty (Ukraine), Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
PSG (France) versus Sevilla (Spain), Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
I guess not all German teams are destined for continental success, because while Dortmund's dominated the Bundesliga, they haven't been able to climb into the top two of Group J. With Sevilla and PSG facing each other in Paris, Dortmund's being given their chance to make up ground. They need three from Karpaty, who haven't registered a point, ahead of a visit from group-leading Sevilla on the last match day. Sevilla currently leads the group with nine points, followed by PSG (eight) and BVB (five).
Utrecht (Netherlands) versus Napoli (Italy), Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Steaua Bucharest (Romania) versus Liverpool (England), Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Steaua and Liverpool seems destined for a draw. Just something in my bones telling me that. If it happens, Liverpool moves to nine points and stays in first place. Steaua moves to six ahead of a round six match at Napoli. It's up to Napoli, winless to this point, to get three at Utrecht and regain control of their knock-out round destiny. With Utrecht closing their group play at Anfield, a win for them brings fewer certainties, though it would also move them to six points.
CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria) versus Besiktas (Turkey) Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
Rapid Wien (Austria) versus Porto (Portugal), Thursday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern
As is the case in Portgual, Porto is in control, holding a three point lead on Besiktas going into the fifth round. Porto has already clinched a knockout round birth, and if their lead remains in tact at the end of Thursday, they'll have clinched first place, too. Besiktas, four points ahead of both Rapid and CSKA, confirms their own knockout round spot with a win.