English rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are aiming to build on winning starts in the Europa League on Thursday while Zlatan Ibrahimovic will look to transfer his incredible Serie A form to the continental stage.
Smarting from a 1-0 loss at home to Leicester at the weekend, the Gunners host Irish side Dundalk in their second Group B fixture following a come-from-behind victory in Austria in their opening match.
Dundalk are just the third Irish representative to reach the group stage, having matched their achievement in 2016/17 and that of Shamrock Rovers in 2011/12.
They lost 2-1 at home to Norwegians Molde in their first game, and their Italian coach Filippo Giovagnoli is acutely aware the odds are stacked against the club from County Louth on Ireland’s east coast.
“Arsenal have better players, better coaches and better everything than us, but this is the challenge. We need to play with a lot of heart, run a lot and be a little crazy and brave, but we’re going to try,” said Giovagnoli.
Tottenham’s solid start in the Premier League has stirred up talk they could potentially end a long title drought, with no team yet to truly assert themselves after a truncated pre-season.
“We know with the team we have got and the players we have got we can do something special,” captain Harry Kane, who is two goals shy of 200 for Spurs, told the BBC after Monday’s 1-0 win at Burnley.
Jose Mourinho’s side head to Belgium to play Antwerp this week after easing past Austrian outfit LASK Linz 3-0 in their Group J opener.
– Gerrard’s Rangers unbeaten this season –
Leicester, the third English club in the competition, travel to AEK Athens as they too chase a second straight victory in Group J.
Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers are at home to Lech Poznan in Group D. Steven Gerrard’s men are unbeaten this term and have won their last seven games.
Celtic, who are targeting a record 10th successive Scottish title, lost ground to Rangers at the weekend and have work to do in Group H after they were beaten 3-1 by Milan.
The task won’t get any easier with a visit to Lille, who are level on points with Paris Saint-Germain in France and the only unbeaten team left in Ligue 1.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored seven times in five games this season despite missing a handful of matches after testing positive for coronavirus.
The 39-year-old former Sweden international netted twice for the third time in a row in Serie A as Milan drew 3-3 with Roma on Monday.
Ibrahimovic would become the second-oldest scorer in Europa League history if he hits the target against Sparta Prague.
Molde’s Daniel Hestad holds the record, scoring against Celtic in November 2015 aged 40 years and 98 days.
Real Sociedad host Napoli as two famous European names do battle for the first time in Group F.
Fixtures (kick-offs Groups G-L at 1655 GMT, Groups A-F at 1900 GMT)
Zorya Luhansk (UKR) v Braga (POR)
AEK Athens (GRE) v Leicester City (ENG)
AC Milan (ITA) v Sparta Prague (CZE)
Lille (FRA) v Celtic (SCO)
Sivasspor (TUR) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (ISR)
Qarabag (AZE) v Villarreal (ESP)
Antwerp (BEL) v Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
LASK Linz (AUT) v Ludogorets (BUL)
Feyenoord (NED) v Wolfsberg (AUT)
CSKA Moscow (RUS) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Red Star Belgrade (SRB) v Slovan Liberec (CZE)
Gent (BEL) v Hoffenheim (GER)
Roma (ITA) v CSKA Sofia (BUL)
CFR Cluj (ROM) v Young Boys (SUI)
Arsenal (ENG) v Dundalk (IRL)
Molde (NOR) v Rapid Vienna (AUT)
Slavia Prague (CZE) v Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Nice (FRA) v Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
Benfica (POR) v Standard Liege (BEL)
Rangers (SCO) v Lech Poznan (POL)
Omonoia Nicosia (CYP) v PSV Eindhoven (NED)
Granada (ESP) v PAOK (GRE)
Real Sociedad (ESP) v Napoli (ITA)
AZ Alkmaar (NED) v Rijeka (CRO)
Published: 2020-10-28 02:38:08
Tags: #Arsenal #seek #Europa #League #boost #confident #Spurs #Belgium