Olympique Lyonnais are one of several sides who can seal a knockout stage berth on matchday four, when defeat will spell the end of this UEFA Europa League journey for others.
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Olympique Lyonnais are one of a host of teams who can reach out and all but touch a place in the knockout stage ahead of what promises to be a nail-biting UEFA Europa League matchday four.
Only three points separate Liverpool FC at the top from BSC Young Boys at the bottom, making Group A one of the tightest at this midway juncture. Victory for Young Boys last time out kept all four clubs in the running to make the knockout rounds, while the two defeated teams on matchday three – Udinese Calcio and FC Anji Makhachkala – enjoy home advantage next.
Group B is more straightforward. Club Atlético de Madrid are one of three sides with 100% records so far, and if they extend their record-breaking run to a 17th straight win in UEFA competition at A. Académica de Coimbra, they will go through. Even if Académica curtail Atlético's streak with a draw, that would be enough to take the reigning champions through along with FC Viktoria Plzeň – should the Czech outfit, now on home soil, reproduce their matchday three success against Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.
With a single point to date, AEL Limassol FC appear cut adrift in Group C, but the other three teams remain tightly bunched. Back-to-back victories for unbeaten Fenerbahçe SK have given them the upper hand, and they will be confident of registering a first home win of the group stage with AEL visiting Istanbul. The Cypriot club were beaten 5-1 when they travelled to the Stade Vélodrome, where VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach will hope to follow up their 2-0 defeat of Olympique de Marseille in Germany with another maximum haul to steal a march on the French side.
The picture is barely clearer in Group D where leaders Newcastle United FC are the only team in the group stage yet to concede, though a loss at Club Brugge KV on matchday four would move the Belgian outfit to within a point of the north-easterners. FC Girondins de Bordeaux could pull level with Alan Pardew's men if they prevail at home to CS Marítimo, for whom a maiden win would push them into the reckoning.
The four sides in Group E have exactly the same points' tallies as those in the preceding section. FC Steaua Bucureşti are eyeing a third straight triumph as they head to Molde FK to consolidate their hold on top spot. Bottom team VfB Stuttgart face a daunting trip to second-placed FC København, hardly the ideal stage on which to pursue a first group-stage victory.
Their maximum plunder from three games means that if FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk can end SSC Napoli's 15-match unbeaten sequence at home, they will progress from Group F. Success for the Italian club would give their hopes a major boost, yet PSV Eindhoven and AIK, who picked up their first point of the group phase in the Netherlands last time out, are still in the hunt.
Having won their last two fixtures, Videoton FC have the most momentum in Group G as they chase down unbeaten section leaders KRC Genk. Paulo Sousa's men know victory at FC Basel 1893 will propel them into the round of 32 if Genk, who will see former coach Frank Vercauteren in the hosts' dugout, beat Sporting Clube de Portugal to ease themselves through as well.
The formula in Group H is simple. Should FC Internazionale Milano and FC Rubin Kazan repeat their matchday three triumphs, this time at FK Partizan and Neftçi PFK respectively, they will both clinch last-32 places. Successes for Lyon and second-placed AC Sparta Praha will have the same effect in Group I, though even a draw for OL at Athletic Club would suffice if Sparta avoid defeat at Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC.
Given they have scored only twice, it is something of a surprise to see S.S. Lazio lead the way in Group J. Their pool rivals remain close behind, however, and Panathinaikos FC – currently bottom – could depose the Italian club with a matchday four win in Rome. NK Maribor are entertained by Tottenham Hotspur FC, and will stay ahead of the English team if they escape London unbeaten.
After their 4-0 victory at SK Rapid Wien on matchday three, Bayer 04 Leverkusen will be hopeful of earning the win that will – if FC Metalist Kharkiv see off Rosenborg BK in Ukraine – take them and Metalist through from Group K. Another German representative, Hannover 96, set the Group L pace. Three points at home to Helsingborgs IF will push Mirko Slomka's men into the knockout stage for the second successive season, yet they also need Levante UD to halt FC Twente's 12-game unbeaten run at home; such a result would send the Spanish side through too.