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Europa League preview: Field set for final trim

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The UEFA Europa League gained some big names this week with the third-place teams of the Champions League, but will it lose some others?

Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Atletico Madrid, and Sporting CP are among eight UCL drop-outs to join the UEL for the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Liverpool crushes Spartak ]

Everton and Hoffenheim have already been eliminated, and Koln, Marseille, and Athletic Bilbao could bow out of the tournament without results on Thursday.

Only eight spots remain before Thursday’s action, with giants Arsenal and AC Milan already through before matches with BATE Borisov and Rijeka. The Gunners will be without Shkrodan Mustafi for the match, and will face a desperate BATE team which can still advance in a number of scenarios.

The other Premier League side in the tournament, Everton, is in Cyprus to face Apollon Limassol in a match thatb doesn’t matter for either side. Sam Allardyce will likely have little use for it ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside Derby.

Group F is the only bunch with two spots still open. Sheriff Tiraspol (Romania) leads the way, and needs just a point from Copenhagen. The hosts need to top Sheriff, while Lokomotiv Moscow advances with a win at Fastav Zlin or a Copenhagen draw or loss.

As for the three big names in question:

— Marseille advances with a win at home to Red Bull Salzburg, or a draw and help from Vitoria against Konyaspor.

— Koln goes through with a win at Red Star Belgrade.

— Athletic Bilbao simply needs to avoid a loss in Ukraine to Zorya Luhansk.

Evra banned from all UEFA competitions after attacking his own fans

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Patrice Evra has been banned from all UEFA club competitions until June 30, 2018 after attacking one of his own fans at Marseille.

So, the remainder of the 2017-18 season in the Europa League and Champions League. The left back was also handed a $11,650 fine.

[ VIDEO: Watch Evra’s attack ]

Evra, 36, was sent off before Marseille’s game at Vitoria Guimaraes on Nov. 2 for aiming a kick at one of his own fans after an altercation on the side of the pitch.

Marseille then had to play the entire game with 10-men and Evra’s future at the Ligue 1 club is over with Marseille banning him and the French club saying his deal has now been terminated as they also claim the decision was mutual.

Now, if he decides to carry on playing elsewhere, Evra will not be available to play in European club competitions for the next seven months.

Evra’s glittering career with Monaco, Manchester United and his resurgence at Juventus in recent years — he has won eight league titles (five in England, two in Italy and one in France) and a UEFA Champions League title at United — looks like it will end in controversial fashion.

Marseille fans turn on Evra after attack

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Marseille fans have told Patrice Evra he is no longer welcome at the club after the defender kicked a supporter in the head.

Evra was suspended by Marseille on Friday, a day after he confronted a fan and aimed a kick at his head ahead of a Europa League game in Portugal. Evra, who appeared to make light contact with his foot, had shortly before aimed a punch at the same fan.

Fans held aloft two banners criticizing Evra before Sunday’s home match against Caen at Stade Velodrome.

“This Game Is Over,” read one banner in English, mocking Evra’s regular posts on social media where he films himself talking about football and says, “I love this game,” as he breaks into laughter.

Another banner, in French, read: “Love for the jersey. Respect for supporters. Professionalism. Is that too much to ask?”

Other fans chanted against Evra during the game against Caen, which Marseille won 5-0.

Thursday’s incident before the match against Vitoria caused many other Marseille fans to come down from the stands to try and confront Evra, who was then led away by a teammate.

As the players were warming up before the match, Evra had moved away from the field and toward the away section of Marseille fans where an argument began and then escalated.

The 36-year-old Evra is a controversial and often unpopular figure in French football. He was the captain when France went on strike at training during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in protest after teammate Nicolas Anelka was sent home. He was given a five-match ban by the French Football Federation.

The reaction this time round was intense, with former national team players and television pundits roundly condemning him.

UEFA said Friday that Evra will be banned for at least one game. Its disciplinary body will meet next Friday to rule on the incident. He also faces further sanctions from Marseille, which has opened an internal investigation.

Although Marseille said it accepted Evra received some “hateful insults” from a group of fans, the club said he could in no way “respond in such an inappropriate manner.”

Evra’s temperament has been an issue in the past. He has clashed verbally with former players — especially Lilian Thuram and Christophe Dugarry — and with television pundits, often mocking some of them with invented names as a pun on their names.

The attack-minded left back’s 81st and last appearance for France was a year ago in a World Cup qualifier against Sweden.

Earlier this season, Evra was heavily criticized in some sections of the media, including by Dugarry, for filming himself offering a bag of food to a homeless person on Marseille’s streets and posting a message asking others what they were doing to help.

Patrice Evra suspended by Marseille for kicking out at fan

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Patrice Evra‘s career may be at a crossroads.

In the hours after kicking an Olympique Marseille fan that earned him a pre-match red card, Evra’s club swiftly announced that he had been suspended, with a interview set to come that could lead to more punishment. While he has a one-match Europa League ban currently, UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings, and he could fact both a longer internal and external ban.

[ MORE: Ligue 1 score, schedule ]

In its statement, the club admitted that its own fans had provoked Evra along with rushing onto the edge of the field to cause trouble, but that Evra had no right to act in that manner. Evra broke a Europa League record with his red card, as Marseille fell on the road, 1-0 to Vitoria Guimaraes.

The 36-year-old is in his second season at Marseille after three seasons with Juventus and nine seasons at Manchester United.

This isn’t Evra’s first brush with controversy. Evra accused Luis Suarez in 2011 of racial abuse, leading to an awkward exchange in which Suarez wouldn’t shake Evra’s hand before a Manchester United-Liverpool match.

Evra was also involved in the French National Team mutiny in 2010 that sabotaged the nation’s hopes at the World Cup in South Africa.

Ligue 1: Neymar sent off, Cavani saves PSG in draw with Marseille

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ARIS (AP) Neymar was sent off shortly before Edinson Cavani rescued league leader Paris Saint-Germain with an injury-time free kick in a 2-2 draw at rival Marseille on Sunday.

Cavani won the foul after being knocked over by forward Bouna Sarr, and stepped up to curl the ball in off the underside of the crossbar with goalkeeper Steve Mandanda slightly slow to cover.

“It’s an important goal,” said Cavani, after netting his ninth of the campaign. “It was difficult to play here in a tough atmosphere.”

It was down to Cavani to take the free kick because Neymar, the world’s most expensive player when he joined from Barcelona for $260 million, was sent off after picking up a second yellow card in the 87th minute.

The Brazil striker reacted angrily to a cheap challenge from behind from Lucas Ocampos, and sent the Argentine winger tumbling to the ground at Stade Velodrome in retribution.

Shortly before, winger Florian Thauvin acrobatically volleyed home in the 78th minute from substitute Clinton Njie’s pass from the byline to put host Marseille ahead.

“You always have to make the run to the front post,” Thauvin said. “It was a great pass from him.”

Despite conceding the late goal, it was a confidence boost for Marseille after being routed 5-1 at home by PSG last season.

Marseille is fifth, four points behind second-place Monaco and eight behind PSG — which needed an injury-time goal to win 2-1 at Dijon in its previous league game.

“It’s bitterly disappointing, because we thought we’d done enough to win,” Mandanda said. “By the time I saw Cavani’s shot coming it was too late. But we should be happy and proud of our performance.”

PSG was heavy favorite, but Marseille twice took the lead.

Roared on by 60,000 home fans, Marseille scored in the 16th minute. Holding midfielder Luiz Gustavo was given too much room, and the former Bayern Munich midfielder advanced to hit a swerving 30-meter shot into the bottom left corner.

After Cavani missed a chance immediately after, Neymar collected a pass from midfielder Adrien Rabiot just inside the penalty area and drilled a low shot in off the right post in the 33rd.

There were no PSG fans present due to security concerns but Marseille fans clashed with riot police before the game.