Thursday’s Europa League Preview

Preview of Thursday’s Europa League clashes for the British and Irish sides with Celtic, Spurs, Fulham, Stoke, Birmingham and Shamrock Rovers

Rennes v Celtic

Celtic will travel to France to face Rennes this week for a crucial Europa League encounter with the controversy stemming from their qualifying match still unresolved.

The match represents a must win encounter for the Glasgow side who have taken just one point from their opening two games.

However, their preparation cannot have been helped by the distraction of F.C Sion’s attempt’s to fore their way back in to group I at Celtic’s expense.

Sion initially beat Celtic 3-1 on aggregate but were removed from the competition after having been found guilty of fielding five ineligible players.

After having their appeal rejected Sion have brought the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport who will make a judgement next week.

The result of that hearing could throw the group into chaos with plans for it to be restarted including both Sion and Celtic a distinct possibility.

Rennes are also in need of a victory and will be without French international Yann M’Vila. For Celtic, Georgios Samaras is out, while Kris Commons has failed to recover from a calf injury.

Wisla v Fulham

Fulham travel to Poland to face bottom of the group Wisla in a game the Londoners will be fully expecting to take three points from.

Wisla have been soundly beaten in both previous group encounters conceding seven goals in the process.

They do however have a decent record at home in Europe. The Polish side have lost jus two of their last 11 home games in UEFA competitions.

Tottenham V Rubin Kazan

Harry Redknapp will be hoping for an easy victory tonight in this top of Group A clash at White Hart Lane.

However the way the Russian side have played his side might be in for a challenge. Making the challenge more difficult is the fact that Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Bassong are their only fit central defenders thanks to an injury crisis.

Spurs could be boosted by the return of Aaron Lennon from his groin strain.

Roman Pavlyuchenko will be going against a familiar foe when he lines out for Tottenham against visitors Rubin Kazan on Thursday.

The Russian Striker faced off against Spurs opponents on eight occasions while at Spartak Moscow.

There will also be a familiar face lining up for Kazan against Spurs. Former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins will be looking to continue his impressive record against Spurs having scored on four of the six occasions he has faced the Londoners.

PAOK v Shamrock Rovers

Shamrock Rovers put their league aspirations on hold for a night as they travel to Greece desperate for their first points in the competition against a PAOK side that have drawn their opening two matches.

Rover’s remain four points clear at the top of the Airtricity League but are in need of some points if they are to progress in this competition. They will be looking for Gary Twigg to notch his first goal for Rovers in European competition.

Michael O Neill’s side will be hoping to reproduce the good form they produced against Spurs at White Hart Lane when Rovers led after an hour.

They will face a stiff test from PAOK who should have beaten Spurs on Matchday 1.

The Greek side missed a penalty and hit the bar in what should really have been a victory against the Premiership side.

Brugge v Birmingham

Championship side Birmingham continue their European adventure against Belgian side Club Brugge.

Birmingham are a lowly 16th in English football’s second division but recorded a victory over Maribor in their last Europa League game.

However they will face a tough night away to Brugge who are top of Group H after last month’s victory over Braga.

The Belgian’s are unbeaten at home by an English side, recording six wins and a draw from their seven games.

Stoke v Maccabi Tel Aviv

Kenwyne Jones is poised to make his first-team comeback following a hamstring problem with Danny Higginbotham – out since April with a knee injury also likely to feature however Wilson Palacios is being assessed and may miss out.

Stoke beat Besiktas last time out having drawn with Dynamo Kiev on day one and currently sit top of group E.

Maccabi have yet to win yet so far, losing heavily to Besiktas on day one before getting a point at home to Kiev.

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