RSC Anderlecht, the 1983 UEFA Cup winners, have a small mountain to climb if they are to remain in this year's competition against Stabæk IF.
Three teams have already won through to the second round - Hertha BSC Berlin, KS Amica Wronki and FK Austria Wien - and another 45 teams will join them after Thursday's second-leg matches but whether Anderlecht are among that number depends on their ability to bounce back after a 1-0 defeat in Brussels a fortnight ago.
Anderlecht were booed off that night but since then they have won twice - 6-3 against R. Excelsior Mouscron and 3-1 at R.Charleroi SC - to lift morale. "If we play in Stabæk like we've done in our last couple of games there will be no problem at all," said Hugo Broos, the Anderlecht coach. Broos, who is missing the injured Croatian Ivica Mornar, believes his team must score two goals to win, explaining: "If we score twice, we go through - I do not believe that they can score twice against us."
Two other former UEFA Cup winners are in action on Thursday night. English club Ipswich Town FC, who travel to Yugoslavia trying to improve on a 1-1 draw against FK Sartid, and Parma AC, who will start with the same scoreline when they welcome Russian club PFC CSKA Moskva.
Another team with a European pedigree are Portuguese double winners, Sporting Clube de Portugal, but they have it all to do. However, opponents FK Partizan must defend their 3-1 first-leg lead in an empty stadium in Sarajevo - the punishment for crowd trouble during their UEFA Champions League qualifier against FC Bayern München. Partizan are further handicapped by injuries to a handful of players including Damir Cakar and Brainier Basic.
The eerie quiet in the Partizan stadium will contrast markedly with the excitement in the Marc'Antonio Bentegodi stadium where AC Chievo Verona play their first home European tie against Partizan's Belgrade neighbours FK Crvena Zvezda after a 0-0 draw in the first leg. Crvena, European champions in 1991 when Chievo were a third division club, are missing injured forward Igor Bogdanovic but can welcome back defender Milan Dudic and midfield player Marjan Markovic. Their coach Zoran Filipovic said of Chievo: "They have a few slow players and we could use this in our favour."
Besiktas JK travel to NK Sarajevo without a handful of key players, including Pascal Nouma, Ilhan Mansiz and Amaral. The Turkish side must go for the win after a 2-2 home draw and their coach, Mircea Lucescu, said confidently: "The first match was an important lesson for us - on Thursday we'll show our best side."
A similar task faces Sweden's AIK Solna at another Turkish side Fenerbahçe SK after a 3-3 first-leg draw. Fenerbahçe will be glad to welcome back goalkeeper Rüstü Reçber although they are without defender Mustafa Dogan who is out with a torn cartilage.
Elsewhere, FC Rapid Bucuresti may have claimed a 1-1 draw at SBV Vitesse a fortnight ago but could be missing an entire midfield in the return while Paris Saint-Germain FC will be without Ronaldinho when they take a 3-0 lead to Újpesti TE of Hungary.
Finally Chelsea FC travel to Viking FK hoping to avoid a third successive early exit from the competition as they defend a 2-1 lead. Two sides with even greater concerns are Boavista FC, who have a 1-0 deficit to overturn against Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and Rangers FC, who trail 2-0 from their first leg against FK Viktoria Zizkov.
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