Three Premier League teams are in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday — all away from home — as Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur kick off their knockout round campaigns.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
The first legs of the Europa League Round of 32 sees Liverpool head to Bundesliga outfit Augsburg, while Manchester Unite travel to Denmark to play FC Midtjylland and Tottenham are in Italy to face Fiorentina.
All three PL teams are expected to progress (perhaps Spurs are the slight underdogs against their Serie A opponents who knocked them out of the UEL at this stage last season) but all three have injury problems and are expected to field weakened sides. In the case of Spurs and United, they also play in the FA Cup fifth round this weekend so getting squad rotation correct is key.
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Louis Van Gaal won’t have that luxury as Wayne Rooney has been ruled out for up to two months with a knee injury, with United’s captain and leading scorer now making it 13 players on the sidelines for the Red Devils. Hugo Lloris is missing with a shoulder injury for Spurs but Michel Vorm has been deputizing in Europa League play, while Liverpool boss Klopp is likely to field a strong team in his homeland with the Reds’ best hope of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League next season would be to win the Europa League.
That’s right folks, remember, whoever wins this trophy now gets an automatic spot in the 2016-17 UCL group stage.
Other big matchups involving non-PL teams in the first knockout round includes two former UCL winners Borussia Dortmund hosting FC Porto, Galatasaray versus Lazio, Villarreal hosting Napoli and Sporting Lisbon locking horns with Bayer Leverkusen.
Click on the link above to follow live updates on every single Round of 32 match taking place on Thursday, while the full schedule of games can be found below.
Thursday’s Europa League Round of 32, first leg games
FC Midtjylland vs. Manchester United – 1 p.m. ET
Fiorentina vs. Tottenham Hotspur – 1 p.m. ET
Augsburg vs. Liverpool – 3:05 p.m. ET
Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Porto – 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal vs. Napoli – 1 p.m. ET
Sevilla vs. Molde FK – 1 p.m. ET
St. Etienne vs. FC Basel – 1 p.m. ET
Anderlecht vs. Olympiakos – 1 p.m. ET
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao – 3:05 p.m. ET
Sparta Prague vs. FC Krasnodar – 3:05 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 3:05 p.m. ET
Galatasaray vs. Lazio – 3:05 p.m. ET
Valencia vs. Rapid Vienna – 3:05 p.m. ET
FC Sion vs. Sporting Braga – 3:05 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. FC Schalke 04 – 3:05 p.m. ET