Andrea Dossena will be one of many players given extra zip by having a point to prove on Thursday, when his SSC Napoli side welcome previous employers Liverpool FC. Midfielder Tiago is equally adamant he and his Club Atlético de Madrid colleagues need to show their worth as UEFA Europa League holders, while Beşiktaş JK coach Bernd Schuster wants his charges to demonstrate to FC Porto who is boss in Group L.
Liverpool lead second-placed Napoli by two points in Group K and left-back Dossena would love nothing more than to leapfrog the side he left in January. "Unfortunately, when I was at Liverpool for a year and a half, I was never in as good a condition as I am now," he said. "
I want to show my former club that I'm a different player compared to the one they saw up until ten months ago."
The task for Atlético is to begin living up to the standards they set last term en route to becoming the first winners of the UEFA Europa League era. Bottom of Group B with one point from two games, they hope to finally get going against Rosenborg BK. "We know we haven't started well in this competition and now we have a home match we have to win," said Tiago. "
We can't fail any more. We want to continue in the tournament because of what we did last year and what it represents to our supporters."
Beşiktaş have taken to this season's edition instantly, in contrast, racking up consecutive victories. Thursday's visitors Porto also boast a perfect record, however, and something will have to give in Istanbul. "The match tomorrow will decide who wins the group," said Beşiktaş coach Schuster. "We want to use our home advantage and take pole position. All of us have been waiting for this game for a long time."
Stand-in FC Dynamo Kyiv boss Oleh Luzhny also faces an important test as he prepares to lead the Group E strugglers away against AZ Alkmaar, in what will be their first European fixture since Valeri Gazzaev stood down. "When Gazzaev was coach we wanted to win every game and that hasn't changed," said Luzhny. "We always want to win and I think we have a good chance against AZ."
One man with surely less to prove at the moment is Aleksandr Kerzhakov, the FC Zenit St. Petersburg and Russia striker having plundered 11 goals in seven games for club and country. His last outing at this level yielded a hat-trick against RSC Anderlecht on Matchday 1 and, as Zenit gear up to host HNK Hajduk Split, his coach Luciano Spalletti backed him to continue impressing, saying: "Kerzhakov is in terrific form because he's a serious professional who works very intensively in training. He's eager to leave his mark during his spell with Zenit."
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