UEFA Europa League preview: RVP ready for “special” Old Trafford return

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We’ve got a Champions League-level match down in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, highlighted by an Old Trafford visit by a Turkish giant.

Old pal Robin Van Persie and Fenerbahce visit Manchester United on Thursday, and the home side would do well with all three points. Fener has a road draw at Zorya and a home win versus Feyenoord, while United beat Zorya after losing in the Netherlands.

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“In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it’s United,” Van Persie said on ManUtd.com. “I am looking forward to it. I am now playing for Fenerbahce and I want to do well for my team but of course it will be special to play ‘at home’ [Old Trafford] in a great stadium with great fans against a great team.”

Jose Mourinho admitted he’ll start Luke Shaw in the match, and wouldn’t rule out playing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney or both. United has to deal with a well-rested Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, so Mourinho’s lineup choice will be interesting.

Fenerbahce’s travel was anything but routine on the way to Manchester.

Our own Joe Prince-Wright will be at the San Siro for  Southampton‘s visit to Inter Milan. Inter has lost both of its Europa League outings so far, while Saints are tied for the group lead after beating Sparta Prague and drawing away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Meanwhile, surprising Dundalk hosts Zenit in the latest bid at upsetting a European regular, while Ajax faces a tricky trip to Celta Vigo.

Full schedule

1 p.m. ET
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Sparta Prague
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Gent
Qarabag vs. PAOK
Steaua Bucuresti vs. Zurich
Celta Vigo vs. Ajax
Standard Liege vs. Panathinaikos
Konyaspor vs. Braga
Liberec vs. Fiorentina
Inter Milan vs. Southampton
Red Bell Salzburg vs. Nice
Osmanlispor vs. Villarreal
Krasnodar vs. Schalke

3:05 p.m. ET
Saint Etienne vs. Gabala
Roma vs. Austria Wien
Olympiacos vs. Astana
Manchester United vs. Fenerbahce
Mainz vs. Anderlecht
Rapid Wien vs. Sassuolo
Viktoria Plzen vs. Astra Giurgiu
Dundalk vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Young Boys vs. Apoel Nicosia
Feyenoord vs. Zorya Luhansk
AZ Alkmaar vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Genk vs. Athletic Bilbao