UEFA Europa League Preview: PSV, Valencia look to bounce back
PSV and Valencia will be looking to respond to defeats in their opening UEFA Europa League group games but face tough away ties on Thursday.
The duo are heavily tipped to go all the way despite setbacks on matchday one as the focus shifts the second round of fixtures. PSV travel to Ukraine to face Chornomorets, while Valencia have a test against Russian side Kuban Krasnodar.
Phillip Cocu's PSV side enjoyed morale-boosting 4-0 win over rivals Ajax immediately after their surprising loss to Ludogorets, but fell to a 2-1 defeat against fellow Europa League hopefuls AZ on Saturday.
The Eredivisie side will be without on-loan central defender Karim Rekik (ankle) and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum (back), with Cocu keen to see his players become more consistent.
Since Valencia's 3-0 defeat to Swansea City in their Europa League opener, the Liga side have bounced back with three consecutive league wins.
Miroslav Djukic's side have only conceded one goal in the aftermath if that loss and will be hoping to maintain their form against the Russian Premier League side, although the Spanish team have been dealt a blow with the news that goalkeeper Diego Alves and defender Joao Pereira are both sidelined with adductor muscle damage.
Of the other 22 games on Thursday, Fiorentina have a chance to open up an early lead in Group E when they travel to second-placed Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
However, they will not have it easy as Dnipro have gone 12 games unbeaten in all competitions, winning the last five in a row.
Dnipro sit second in the Ukrainian Premier League with the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev adrift of them in the title race.
Fiorentina have started well in Serie A this season, taking 10 points from the opening five games, but Vincenzo Montella's side fell to their first league defeat against Inter last Thursday.
Early tournament favourites Tottenham lived up to their billing with a 3-0 win over Tromso in their opening game and they travel to Anzhi Makhachkala looking to put down another marker.
Andre Villas-Boas' side have lost once in all competitions this season – to Arsenal – and arrive in Russia on the back of a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Premier League.
Anzhi have not won a game since May – a run of 15 games – and their much-changed squad will find it tough against the English side.
Ludogorets will be hoping to extend their five-game unbeaten run in all competitions when they play host to Dinamo Zagreb in Sofia.
Meanwhile, European newcomers Swansea City face St. Gallen hoping to build on their impressive 3-0 victory at Valencia two weeks ago.
Salzburg had the biggest win of the opening round of games as they beat Elfsborg 4-0, and they travel to play Danish side Esbjerg intent on ending their opponents' seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Elsewhere, Lyon will aim to put their draw with Real Betis behind them as they welcome Vitoria Guimaraes to the Stade Gerland, and Sevilla host Freiburg in Group H.