5 things to know about the Europa League

Six places in the Europa League’s last 32 will be up for grabs

on Thursday in the final round of group-stage matches, and some big

names still aren’t sure of progressing.

Dynamo Kiev and PSV Eindhoven – two teams with vast European

pedigree – are the most high-profile sides still with work to do,

needing at least draws against Rapid Vienna and Chornomorets Odessa

to reach the knockout stage.

Others will be eager to secure top spot in their groups to

guarantee a home second leg in the last 32.

Here are five things to know about this week’s Europa League

games:

LAST DAYS AT LAZIO?

Vladimir Petkovic is reportedly in his final days as Lazio

coach.

Having already agreed to become Switzerland’s national-team

coach after the World Cup and with Lazio having won only one of its

past 10 Serie A matches, the Roman club appears ready to bring in a

replacement during the holiday break – or perhaps sooner if Lazio

does not perform well against Trabzonspor on Thursday or against

Livorno this weekend.

Petkovic guided Lazio to a seventh-place finish last season in

his first year in the Italian league, and also helped Lazio win a

derby with Roma in the Italian Cup final. But Lazio is currently

languishing only three points above Serie A’s relegation zone in

12th place.

Possible replacements include former Sampdoria and Chievo Verona

coach Domenico Di Carlo, current Basel manager Murat Yakin and

Lazio youth-squad coaches Alberto Bollini and Simone Inzaghi.

Lazio hosts Trabzonspor with both teams sure of progressing from

Group J and fighting for first place.

NEW ERA IN EUROPE FOR SEVILLA

Sevilla enters a new phase in its Europa League history after

one of the architects behind its back-to-back titles in 2006 and

`07 quit the club.

Club president Jose Maria del Nido resigned on Monday from the

position he has held since 2002, and from which he helped usher in

the club’s most successful period with those then-UEFA Cup

triumphs.

Del Nido is facing seven years in prison for embezzlement of

public funds and corruption charges, so his exit was expected. But

that has led to reports that sport director Monchi, the talent

spotter who discovered the likes of Dani Alves, Jesus Navas, Sergio

Ramos, and Luis Fabiano and who built those title-winning teams,

could also leave the club.

”I accomplished all that was asked with the great titles we

achieved over these years,” Del Nido said during his emotional

farewell.

Sevilla, is assured of its place in the next stage, and it can

clinch Group H with a draw at Freiburg. The Germans must win by a

three-goal margin to top the group. Should they fail to win, Czech

side Slovan Liberec can surpass them with a victory at Estoril.

SWANSEA’S PROGRESS UNCERTAIN

Swansea secured the greatest result in its history in its

opening group match – a 3-0 win at Valencia – but the Welsh team

has quickly discovered the Europa League isn’t always a soft

touch.

Fortunate to beat Swiss team St. Gallen 1-0 at home in their

second game, Michael Laudrup’s side has only picked up two points

from its past three fixtures to leave qualification in the balance

heading into matchday six.

A point is still needed at St. Gallen on Thursday to ensure

joining pool winner Valencia in advancing from Group A. If the

Swans lose, they can still be pipped to second place if Kuban

Krasnodar wins at Valencia.

Laudrup is boosted by the return of Michu from five weeks out

injured, with the Spain forward making his comeback in the 1-1 draw

with Hull on Monday.

Of England’s other two entrants, Tottenham has won Group K and

Wigan, now managed by former East Germany and Manchester City

striker Uwe Rosler, needs to beat Maribor away and rely on Zulte

Waregem losing at home to already-qualified Rubin Kazan to go

through in Group D.

EUROPEAN COMFORTS FOR LYON

The Europa League is providing Lyon with a welcome relief from

its tribulations in the French league.

Between 1999 and 2013, Lyon has only once – in 2012 – failed to

finish in the top three in Ligue 1. But this year, the team is in

10th place and virtually out of the title race, 17 points adrift of

Paris Saint-Germain and 13 behind third-place Lille.

Things are different in the Europa League, though, as Lyon has

already secured qualification for knockout stage and will top Group

I by beating Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal on Thursday. The sides

drew 1-1 at Stade Gerland in October.

”We’ll go to Guimaraes to keep the top spot,” Lyon midfielder

Maxime Gonalons said.

Lyon is relying heavily on the strike partnership of Alexandre

Lacazette and Bafetimbi Gomis. Both scored in Sunday’s 3-1 win over

Bastia in the French league.

BIG BOYS TO JOIN THE FRAY

The third-place finishers in the eight Champions League groups

will drop into the Europa League for the last 32, the draw for

which takes place on Monday.

Three of those – Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica and Viktoria Plzen –

were decided on Tuesday, with the other five being determined on

Wednesday. They could include any of Porto, AC Milan, Borussia

Dortmund, Juventus or Arsenal.

Chelsea, which won the 2013 Europa League, began that season in

the Champions League.

AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf, Paul Logothetis and Associated

Press writer Trung Latieule contributed to this report.