Bilbao eyes PSG win, Shamrock's big day
Atletico Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa will be trying to get his team back to its winning form against Paris Saint-Germain in the Europa League on Thursday, and Irish club Shamrock Rovers will play its first competitive match in England in more than 50 years at Tottenham.
Both Rovers and Spurs are winless in Group A, while Bilbao's lone victory in seven games under Bielsa this season was a 3-1 victory over Slovan Bratislava to open Group F. PSG is at the top of the French standings and unbeaten in 10 matches, with eight victories.
The Argentine coach is already under pressure to turn around a young squad brimming with talent and expected to challenge for a Champions League place next season. Bilbao sits near the bottom of the Spanish standings with two points from five games.
''Nobody likes where we are but you've got two options: hide away and feel depressed or get motivated by it,'' Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez said. ''Many people are motivated by adversity, including myself and many in the team who are feeling the same way.''
A new-look PSG continued to impress with Saturday's 3-0 win over Montpellier. It hasn't lost since an opening-day defeat and beat Salzburg 3-0 in its opening Europa League game.
Shamrock Rovers' last visit to England was during the 1957-58 season to face a Manchester United team made up of the Busby Babes, many of whom would die in an air crash in Munich later that season. If this visit results in a second straight group defeat - it lost 3-0 to Rubin Kazan - Shamrock will be in a tough spot in Group F. Tottenham drew against PAOK in its first game but has recently found its form domestically, sitting sixth in the Premier League.
England winger Aaron Lennon has recovered from a groin injury and is set to start at White Hart Lane, while Danny Rose (knee) and Steven Pienaar (groin) could also return for Tottenham.
''We've (got) a stronger, more experienced team tomorrow and a chance to play some of the lads who didn't play at the weekend,'' manager Harry Redknapp said on Wednesday.
Schalke coach Huub Stevens makes his debut against Maccabi Haifa in Group J after Ralf Rangnick stepped down on Tuesday because of burnout.
Schalke, which opened with a draw against Steaua Bucharest, is waiting to see if striker Raul Gonzalez, who hurt his ankle in training this week, will be able to play. Haifa is top of the group after opening with a 1-0 win over AEK Larnaca, which plays Steaua.
Lazio plays at Group D leader Sporting Lisbon while fellow Serie A club Udinese will go to Celtic without striker Antonio Di Natale.
The Italy striker, who has led Serie A in scoring the past two seasons, is not traveling to Glasgow for the Group I match because the club wants him to rest for upcoming league matches. Atletico Madrid plays Rennes in the other group game.
The top two in each of the 12 groups will advance to the knockout phase along with the eight third-place teams from the Champions League groups.