UEFA Europa League Thursday: Liverpool Take On Napoli Before Manchester City Host Lech Poznań

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UEFA Europa League Thursday: Liverpool Take On Napoli Before Manchester City Host Lech Poznań

Europa may not be the sexiest of the European competitions, considering it involves the teams that couldn't quite make it to the Champions League (and later includes the ones that drop out of the Champions League) but most clubs participating in the tournament are fairly well known, and it's certainly worth tuning in to see the match-ups.

Last year's title winners, Atlético Madrid, have yet to win in the competition, and sit at the bottom of Group B with just one point. They host Norwegian side Rosenborg BK, who managed a win against Greek club Aris Thessaloniki last time around, but were resoundingly beaten by Bayern Leverkusen, 4-0 in the first match.

Sporting Lisbon and Zenit St. Petersburg are the clubs to watch this year, with both teams having scored seven goals each in just two matches. Sporting welcome the Belgian side Gent to the Estádio José Alvalade while Croatian club Hajduk travels to St. Petersburg. CSKA Moscow are nearly as prolific, with six goals in two matches, and five of those goals having been scored in the last thirty minutes of those matches. They travel to Palermo, hoping to keep up their average of three goals per match and cement their spot atop Group F.

The two English sides that remain in Europa League competition (Aston Villa having lost out to Rapid Vienna for the second straight year) likely don't have the tournament at the top of their to-do list. Manchester City are busy trying to win the English Premier League, while Liverpool, on the other hand, are busy trying not to spend next season outside the league.

Manchester City host Polish side Lech Poznań, who currently lead Group A thanks to a greater number of goals scored. Both City and Lech have four points. City had hoped to rest Carlos Tevez, but with injuries to many of their strike force, Mancini might have no choice but to play the Argentinian. Emmanuel Adebayor, who didn't have the best game of his life against Blackpool on Sunday, looks likely to start, while defender Kolo Toure is out with a hamstring injury.

Liverpool, who are in first in Group K, are simply hoping to give a good account of themselves to their new American owners after last week's 2-0 loss to Everton. The team traveled to Italy to take on Napoli, who are second in the group with two draws, including an impressive come-from-behind draw against Steaua Bucharest, in which Edinson Cavani equalized in the eighth minute of added time. Liverpool left Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres back at home, resting for Sunday's match against Blackburn, while Glen Johnson is out with an injury and Daniel Agger is ill. Not to worry, though, Liverpool fans--you've got Christian Poulsen. The defensive midfielder will surely be able to control Cavani, who has six goals in seven games for Napoli.

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