UEFA Europa League: English teams face fight to stick around

Clive Brunskill

Liverpool and Newcastle face tough matches on Thursday, but the Europa League's best matches feature teams from Ukraine and Norway.

The middle rounds of this season's Europa League provide the best matchups of the tournament. Most of the teams who actually have a shot at making a deep run in this competition, big league sides and talented teams from second-tier leagues alike, are facing off against each other over the next two matchdays.

Liverpool face a difficult fight to stay in the competition, with a couple of matches against Anzhi Makhachkala, the über-rich side that leads the Russian Premier League. They play at Anfield on Thursday, and will need three points to feel comfortable about their position heading into the second half of the group stage. Newcastle face a similarly tough test, against Belgian league leaders Club Brugge. Those games, along with Dnipro against Napoli, are the games to watch during the late slate.

The most eye-catching game of the early slate features Lyon hosting Athletic Bilbao, who have struggled domestically this season. Another Spanish side, Levante, also hosts a fantastic match against Dutch title contenders FC Twente, while Rosenborg, the leaders in Norway, host knockout stage regulars Metalist Kharkiv.

Schedule (all times ET)

12 p.m.

Rubin Kazan vs. Neftchi

1 p.m.

Inter Milan vs. Partizan Belgrade
Racing Genk vs. Sporting Lisbon
Videoton FC vs. FC Basel
Lyon vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sparta Prague vs. Hapoel Kiryat Shmona
NK Maribor vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Panathinaikos vs. Lazio
Rapid Vienna vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Rosenborg vs. Metalist Kharkiv
Helsingborg vs. Hannover 96
Levante vs. FC Twente

3 p.m.

Liverpool vs. Anzhi Makhachkala
Young Boys vs. Udinese
Atletico Madrid vs. Adademica de Coimbra
Hapoel Tel-Aviv vs. Viktoria Plzen
AEL vs. Fenerbahce
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Marseille
Maritimo vs. Bordeaux
Newcastle United vs. Club Brugge
Steaua Bucharest vs. Molde
Stuttgart vs. FC Copenhagen
Dnipro vs. Napoli
PSV Eindhoven vs. AIK

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