ENFIELD, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Jermain Defoe (L) and Gareth Bale during a Tottenham training session ahead of their Europa League match with Lazio on September 19, 2012 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
The first matchday of the Europa League features plenty of interesting teams and fixtures, including Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Inter Milan, and Napoli.
As the Europa League kicks off for another season, there are a few interesting games scheduled to get us started, which could give us an indication of how well the bigger teams in the competition will fare, and also how seriously they're going to take it.
Lazio's trip to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham Hotspur is perhaps the biggest tie of the round, and although the group is relatively straightforward, with both teams unlikely to encounter too many problems in progressing, it promises to be an entertaining game. If Andre Villas-Boas is deciding to take it seriously, then Spurs could be one of the favourites for the trophy, but he has a relatively thin squad and may decide his resources are better spent elsewhere.
Inter Milan are also in action against Rubin Kazan, and with the Italian giants having done some excellent business in the summer, should be another team with the capability to win the trophy. Regardless of what happens here, both teams should make it out of the group with relative ease.
Liverpool are also in action in what promises to be a far less predictable group, and will be hoping to get an early advantage against Young Boys. The Reds will also have one eye on the game between wealthy Russian club Anzhi as they host Udinese, which could be crucial to their hopes of progression. Another Premier League side, Newcastle United, will also be making their return to Europe after a lengthy period away. They'll be in action in Portugal against Maritimo.
Another group which could throw up a few surprises is Group C. AEL Limassol are almost certain to end up with the wooden spoon, but Borussia Monchengladbach, Fenerbahce and Marseille should provide an interesting three-way tussle. Marseille travel to Istanbul and that game will almost certainly prove to be decisive when the group stage ends.
All in all, some interesting fixtures, and a host of teams in action who could well go all the way. Inter will probably be favourites, but it will be interesting to see how seriously the likes of Tottenham and Napoli will be going for the trophy, as well as seeing how Newcastle and Gladbach fare in their European excursion. It's difficult to make any predictions at the moment, but all should be slightly clearer by the end of the night.
1:00 p.m. ET games
Udinese vs. Anzhi Makhachkala
BSC Young Boys vs. Liverpool
Hapoel Tel-Aviv vs. Atletico Madrid
Viktoria Plzen vs. Academica de Coimbra
AEL vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
Fenerbahce vs. Marseille
Bordeaux vs. Club Brugge
Maritimo vs. Newcastle United
FC Copenhagen vs. Molde
VfB Stuttgart vs. Steaua Bucharest
Dnipro vs. PSV Eindhoven
Napoli vs. AIK
3:05 p.m. ET games
Racing Genk vs. Videoton FC
Sporting Lisbon vs. FC Basel
Inter Milan vs. Rubin Kazan
Partizan Belgrade vs. Neftchi
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hapoel Kiryat Shmona
Lyon vs. Sparta Prague
NK Maribor vs. Panathinaikos
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Lazio
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Metalist Kharkiv
Rapid Vienna vs. Rosenborg
Levante vs. Helsingborg
FC Twente vs. Hannover