FK Austria Wien should be grateful for home advantage when they start their Group C campaign against Real Zaragoza on Thursday.
The Spanish side have won nine consecutive home games, following Sunday's 3-0 dismantling of Sevilla FC, but are less impressive on their travels, with just one away victory registered this season. However, Austria coach Lars Söndergaard is taking nothing for granted against opponents he refers to as "the perfect team".
"Zaragoza are playing excellent football. They are disciplined, direct and well balanced," he said, while underlining the threat of the "big four" - forwards Sávio Bortolini, David Villa, Javi Moreno and Luciano Galletti. "They would trouble any team in Europe," continued the coach, whose own key striker, Sigurd Rushfeldt, could be missing through injury. Tosin Dosunmu and Radoslaw Gilewicz are on standby.
That said, Zaragoza coach Víctor Muñoz, who has César Jiménez and Cani available, expects a tough contest at the Ernst Happel stadium. Austria won 2-0 at FC Wacker Tirol at the weekend, and Muñoz warned: "They are the best team in Austria, very strong, but a draw won't satisfy us." History suggests Zaragoza will obtain the desired result: Austrian clubs have won only six of 45 games against Spanish opposition.
Zaragoza's Matchday 1 victims, FC Utrecht, will want to open their points account when they welcome FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to the Nieuw Galgenwaard stadium. The Dutch team are again without winger Dave van den Bergh, who won't be risked despite recovering from injury. Goalkeeper Joost Terol is also out while defender Edson Braafheid is doubtful.
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk defeated Club Brugge KV (out of action this week) 3-2 in their group-stage opener, but can expect few favours from a Utrecht side that denied PSV Eindhoven in an Eredivisie stalemate last Friday.
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