The spotlight falls on the UEFA Cup tonight when the second round begins in earnest. Among the 21 ties are neighbourly disputes and old boys' reunions - not to mention the prospect of a surprise or two.
Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC are no strangers to upsets after a fantastic run to the quarter-finals of the competition last year, which included wins over Chelsea FC, FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Parma AC. Tonight Hapoel visit Leeds United FC aiming to emulate their Israeli compatriots Maccabi Haifa who beat English opponents Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League earlier in the week.
Determined to win
Hapoel may be without central defender Assi Domb but midfield player Yossi Abuksis said: "Maccabi Haifa's achievement against Manchester United just increases our appetite which is big anyway, especially after last season. Leeds are a massive club and a great team but we are determined to win."
Viking on the march
Another team looking to defy the odds are Norway's Viking FK who travel to the Spanish Primera División side RC Celta de Vigo buoyed by their first-round victory over Chelsea. The influential midfield player Aleksandr Mostovoi is missing for Celta through injury but Viking have no such worries.
Zenga passes on experience
FC National Bucuresti take on Paris Saint-Germain FC hoping to reap the benefits of coach Walter Zenga's experience. PSG have a strong track record in Europe but Zenga won the UEFA Cup with Internazionale FC as a player in the 1990s. National are boosted by the return of captain Sabin Ilie who, after an internal dispute, had been banished to the reserves.
Scotland's Celtic FC, meanwhile, host Blackburn Rovers FC from neighbouring England in what promises to be a fiery and patriotic occasion - not least because Blackburn manager Graeme Souness was once in charge of Celtic's arch-rivals Rangers FC. Another tie with a little added spice sees the Greek club Panathinaikos FC make the short trip across the Aegean Sea to play Turkey's Fenerbahçe SK - the first time clubs from the two countries have met.
FK Crvena Zvezda's home tie with S.S. Lazio should also be an emotional occasion, at least for Lazio's Yugoslavian pair Dejan Stankovic and Sinisa Mihajlovic who are returning to their old club.
FC Schalke 04 beat Legia Warszawa in one of Tuesday's three ties, and of the previous winners in action tonight, Parma, the 1999 victors, take on another Polish side, TS Wisla Kraków. RSC Anderlecht, winners in 1983, are at home to Denmark's FC Midtjylland, while Ipswich Town FC, winners in 1981, welcome Czech champions FC Slovan Liberec to Portman Road in what will be new manager Joe Royle's first match.
Elsewhere, Besiktas JK play Spain's Deportivo Alavés, finalists in 2001 but doubtless glad for a distraction from their poor league form. Two sides in peak form meet in Vienna, where FK Austria Wien, leaders of the Austrian Bundesliga take on FC Porto, who are top of the Portuguese Super Liga.
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