Dirk Kuyt is looking forward to meeting old friends as the UEFA Europa League takes the Liverpool FC forward back to FC Utrecht. Jupp Heynckes is equally excited to be back in Madrid with Bayer 04 Leverkusen and local hero Marius Lăcătuş is also on familiar terrain with FC Steaua Bucureşti.
Captain Steven Gerrard will be rested for Liverpool's Group L game in Utrecht, but the big news in the Netherlands concerns Kuyt's return to face the club he represented from 1998 to 2003, when he joined Feyenoord. "It means a lot to go back," said the 30-year-old. "They are the club that gave me the opportunity to play professional football and I really enjoyed it."
A 4-1 defeat against Liverpool on Matchday 1 contributed to Ilie Dumitrescu's decision to resign as Steaua coach, and prompted Lăcătuş to return from his new home in Spain take on the job. His third spell in charge commences at home against SSC Napoli, with Steaua yet to take a point – or score a goal – in 11 previous games against Italian opponents. Lăcătuş, who won a record ten Romanian titles as a Steaua player, said: "If we have the right attitude we can hope, but in order to win a team has to score."
Jupp Heynckes led Real Madrid CF to UEFA Champions League glory in 1998 and will be making a trip down memory lane as his Bayer 04 Leverkusen side visit UEFA Europa League holders Club Atlético de Madrid. "Coming back to this city is a great pleasure for me and even more so when we are talking about a match like this," said Heynckes. "The Vicente Calderón has been always a very tough stadium because of the supporters.
An Atlético fan supports the team from cradle to grave."
FC Metalist Kharkiv pulled off one of the big results of Matchday 1, winning 5-0 at Debreceni VSC, and will look to prove their star quality at home against PSV Eindhoven in Group I. "What can you say about PSV?" said the Ukrainian side's coach Myron Markevich. "For me they are the best team in the Netherlands now.
It's interesting to be up against a top-class team. We have an excellent opportunity to test ourselves."
HNK Hajduk Split coach Stanko Poklepović felt similarly enthused about the prospect of welcoming RSC Anderlecht in Group G. "We worked wonders just by getting to the group stage this season, but we want new miracles," he said. "This is a beautiful European footballing exhibition in a beautiful European city, and we should all enjoy it."
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