Parma FC's 14th consecutive European campaign continues with a visit to northern Spain to face Athletic Club Bilbao. Whether it provides a welcome distraction from their wretched start to the domestic season remains to be seen, however.
Parma have not won yet in Serie A, taking only three points from six games. Their coach Silvio Baldini offered to resign after Sunday's 3-1 defeat at Brescia Calcio but club officials persuaded him to stay. "It's a difficult period for us," he said. "Now we have to work hard and run, not talk."
Baldini will rest a number of first-team regulars in Bilbao, including Sébastien Frey, Alberto Gilardino, Marco Marchionni, Fabio Simplicio, Cesare Bovo and Vincenzo Grella, who are all expected to start on the bench. Youngsters Gaetano Grieco and Francesco Ruopolo will lead the attack.
For all Parma's problems, Athletic will not be taking them lightly. Midfielder Francisco Yeste said: "Whoever plays, we know it's not going to be easy because Parma's history in European competition goes back a long way." The Basque club beat Málaga CF 1-0 at the weekend.
Radoi not ready
In tonight's other match, FC Steaua Bucuresti face R. Standard de Liège. Steaua are without key men in goalkeeper Vasili Khomutovski and captain Mirel Radoi. The latter has a knee injury and although he has been training, coach Walter Zenga said playing him was "out of the question. He has not played for two months". Defender Tiberiu Curt is also sidelined and Gabriel Bostina suspended, but Florentin Dumitru returns.
Standard have been on a good run lately and sit fourth in the Belgian First Division. Coach Dominique D'Onofrio is missing only Wamberto and Sérgio Conceição, while Jonathan Walasiak's ankle problem means he will start on the bench again.
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