European giants AFC Ajax are among eight sides making their first group-stage appearances of the 2006/07 UEFA Cup on Matchday 2.
The four-time European champions Ajax, who won their only UEFA Cup crown in 1992, start their Group F programme with the visit of FK Austria Wien at the Amsterdam ArenA. Along with Ajax, the other seven clubs getting under way in the 40-team group stage are FK Partizan, FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti, Grasshopper-Club, RC Lens, AS Nancy-Lorraine, FK Mladá Boleslav and RC Celta de Vigo.
Austria may feel their future in the competition is already on the line against the Dutch leaders after losing their opening fixture 4-1 at home against SV Zulte Waregem. In contrast, having recorded arguably the result of Matchday 1, the Belgian outsiders could take a giant step towards the knockout stages with a win at home against AC Sparta Praha.
In Group A, Rangers FC and Maccabi Haifa FC meet after both won their Matchday 1 contests, while in Group B, Tottenham Hotspur FC are looking for a second successive victory at home to Club Brugge KV. AZ Alkmaar were the only side in Group C to pick up three points on Matchday 1 and will be out to double that tally as they visit Grasshoppers, while in Group D, SC Heerenveen will look to build on a creditable draw at CA Osasuna at home against Odense BK.
After winning 2-1 at Wisla Kraków on Matchday 1 thanks to a last-gasp goal, Blackburn Rovers FC will keep hold of top spot in Group E with a home win against FC Basel 1893. Panathinaikos FC will find themselves in a similar position in Group G if they can take three points from their trip to the Czech Republic to play Mladá Boleslav.
Finally, any winner in the mouth-watering game in Sicily between US Città di Palermo and Newcastle United FC would be sure of topping the Group H table in the run up to the Matchday 3 fixtures which will take place on 23 November. Both clubs won on opening night and, with Celta's entry into the fray this time around at home against Eintracht Frankfurt, are well aware that early points are essential in what will be a hugely competitive section.
The top three sides in each group at the end of Matchday 5 will join the eight third-placed sides from the UEFA Champions League group stage in the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup. The Round of 32 will take place next February with the final to be played in Glasgow on 16 May 2007.
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