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Spotlight switches to UEFA Cup

Brøndby IF coach Michael Laudrup pits his wits against former club FC Barcelona as the UEFA Cup returns.

Former winners
Among the eight are three former UEFA Cup winners - FC Internazionale, Galatasaray SK and PSV Eindhoven - together with last season's beaten finalists, Celtic FC. Besiktas JK, Club Brugge KV, Olympique de Marseille and Panathinaikos FC are the other newcomers.

Best represented
The countries best represented are France, Spain and Turkey, each with four teams, and tonight will see two meetings of Spanish and Turkish opponents. Besiktas visit Valencia CF missing Federico Giunti but with Sergen Yalçin back after injury. "Valencia are a strong side but we are as strong as they are," said Sergen.

Villarreal without a coach
Villarreal CF, meanwhile, travel to Galatasaray without a replacement for departed coach Benito Floro. An injury to Hakan Sükür means Necati Ates may start up front alone for Galatasaray.

Barcelona face Laudrup
Another Spanish team, FC Barcelona, face a Brøndby IF side managed by former Camp Nou favourite Michael Laudrup. The Danes' prospects are not helped by long-term injuries to strikers Peter Foldgast, Ruben Bagger, and Kasper Dalgas, leaving youngster Karsten Johansen as the only genuine forward in the squad.

Pressure on
Laudrup is also missing midfield player Martin Retov, while Barça are without Patrick Kluivert. However, the pressure is on the Catalans, according to Laudrup: "Barcelona have to win the UEFA Cup if they want a trophy this season."

Famous scalp
One of the upsets of the second round was FC Sochaux Montbéliard's 6-2 aggregate defeat of BV Borussia Dortmund. The French club now seek another famous scalp in Inter. The Nerazzurri, beaten 3-2 in last weekend's Milan derby, visit Sochaux with a long list of absentees including first-choice central defenders Fabio Cannavaro and Marco Materazzi.

Roma missing forwards
AS Roma are also minus key players for their trip to Gaziantepspor. Forwards Francesco Totti, Antonio Cassano and Vincenzo Montella are injured while Vincent Candela and Ivan Pelizzoli have flu. Gaziantepspor's 5-1 home defeat by Fenerbahçe SK last weekend does not augur well for Nurullah Saglam's side.

Robben worry
Parma AC welcome Gençlerbirligi SK to the Stadio Tardini in the night's other Italo-Turkish encounter, while Perugia AC host a PSV side who may be missing winger Arjen Robben. Brugge, meanwhile, enter the UEFA Cup with a home tie against Hungary's Debreceni VSC, but will have to do without suspended striker Gert Verheyen.

Marseille century
For Marseille, the home tie against FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk is their 100th European match. An injury to Ahmed Hossam 'Mido' means Steve Marlet should continue up front alongside Didier Drogba. Wing-back Manuel Dos Santos is back after a long injury absence while goalkeeper Fabien Barthez plays his first game in Europe since returning to the club.

Remaining ties
Of the other French representatives, AJ Auxerre are at home to Panathinaikos while FC Girondins de Bordeaux travel to Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski. Elsewhere, Celtic meet FK Teplice, 2001 winners Liverpool FC face PFC Levski Sofia, and Vålerenga Fotball host Newcastle United FC. Vålerenga's fellow Norwegians, Rosenborg BK, visit SL Benfica.

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