UEFA Europa League: Italian sides find a way to headline European competition

Paolo Bruno - Getty Images

Napoli go to PSV, while Udinese head to Anfield in Thursday's Europa League action.

Serie A teams have not fared well in Europe since Inter Milan won the Champions League in 2010. The last two years have been a serious struggle and have caused Serie A to fall to fourth place in UEFA coefficients. There's no reason to believe that this is going to change anytime soon, but this week's Europa League slate is somehow headlined by games involving Serie A teams.

Napoli has a tough test away to PSV Eindhoven, especially since they're less likely to field their first team players than the Dutch side are. Youngsters like Lorenzo Insigne and Eduardo Vargas are going to get a run-out, but they're certainly not scrubs. Insigne is one of the most promising young talents in Italy, while Vargas netted a hat trick against AIK in the first round.

Another Italian side, Udinese, faces a tough road match as well. They have to go to Anfield, where they're in need of points in the Europa League's version of the group of death. They drew at home on the first matchday against Anzhi Makhachkala, who host Young Boys in one of the round's early games. Liverpool's youngsters and backups had a tough time in Bern in their last match, but should feel a bit more comfortable at home.

True to tradition, the Europa League has thrown almost all of its good games in the late timeslot, robbing you of the opportunity to watch as much good football as possible.

Schedule

12:00 ET matches

Anzhi Makhachkala vs. BSC Young Boys
FK Rubin Kazan vs. Partizan Belgrade
Neftchi vs. Inter Milan

1 p.m. ET matches

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

3 p.m. ET matches

Liverpool vs. Udinese
Académica de Coimbra vs. Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Atlético Madrid vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Fenerbahçe
Marseille vs. AEL
Club Brugge vs. Maritimo
Newcastle United vs. Bordeaux
Molde vs. VfB Stuttgart
Steaua Bucharest vs. FC Copenhagen
AIK vs. Dnipro
PSV Eindhoven vs. Napoli

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