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UEFA Europa League 2014, Round of 32 preview: The knockout round begins in Europe's other club tournament

Juventus, Napoli and Ajax are among the teams who enter the tournament in the first knock round round of this season's Europa League

Valerio Pennicino

The 2014 Europa League returns after a break with the first leg matches in the Round of 32. All the teams that survived the group stages have been joined by the third place finishers from the Champions League group stages as the march to the final in Turin begins.

There's a chance that final could feature a team playing on their home field if Juventus decide that the Europa League is a worthwhile priority for them. There's little doubt the team has the talent but it may come down to whether or not Antonio Conte decides to take their tie against Trabzonspor seriously. They are joined by fellow Italian sides Fiorentina, Lazio and Napoli.

Two Premier League teams advanced from the group stages as Tottenham will play Dnipro of the Ukrainian League while Swansea City face a tough tie against Napoli. The Swans are currently 10th in the league but only four points above the drop zone, so their focus could be elsewhere. Spurs are also in the midst of a fight to earn a Champions League spot and will have to deal with playing on multiple fronts.

Real Betis is an interesting story as well with the Béticos in dead last in La Liga and in serious danger of relegation. They've been strong in Europe though despite their domestic struggles but surviving in La Liga may prove a more important priority. Spanish sides Sevilla and Valencia also begin play.

Last season's runner-up Benfica begin their trek towards a second straight finals appearance against PAOK Salonika.

Here's the full schedule for Thursday's Europa League action.

12 PM ET

Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Racing Genk


Chornomorets vs. Lyon

Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk vs. Tottenham

Dynamo Kiev vs. Valencia

Esbjerg vs. Fiorentina

Juventus vs. Trabzonspor

Liberec vs. AZ Alkmaar

PAOK Salonika vs. Benfica

3:05 PM ET

Ajax Amsterdam vs. SV Salzburg

FC Porto vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

Lazio vs. Ludogorets Razgrad

Maccabi Tel-Aviv vs. FC Basel

NK Maribor vs. Sevilla FC

Real Betis vs. FK Rubin Kazan

Swansea City vs. Napoli

Viktoria Plzen vs. Shakhtar Donetsk