What to watch on Europa League matchday three

Fenerbahçe are out to show their better side on Thursday, while Bordeaux welcome an old friend and the new coaches of Liverpool and Partizan seek positive starts.

Fenerbahçe are blowing hot and cold this season
Fenerbahçe are blowing hot and cold this season ©AFP/Getty Images

Group A
Fenerbahçe's ups and downs
Group A has a topsy-turvy look ahead of matchday three, Molde topping a section that includes Celtic as well as Fenerbahçe and Ajax – both of whom are looking for a first win in the section. Ajax can feel confident: they have won all eight of their games against Turkish sides including a pair of 2-0 wins against the Yellow Canaries in the second round of the 1968/69 European Champion Clubs' Cup.

Coach Vítor Pereira, meanwhile, is hoping Fenerbahçe can show some consistency. "It's like we are two distinct teams," he said. "One is enthusiatic, ambitious and plays entertaining football, creating lots of chances and keeping pressure on opponents; the other is nervous, loses composure after conceding and throws in the towel under pressure."
Fenerbahçe v Ajax – 21.05CET

Group B
Klopp's Red dawn
Brendan Rodgers' last European game as Liverpool manager is unlikely to inspire fond memories in the future. The Anfield crowd left little doubt as to what they thought of his side's performance as the Reds traipsed off at the end of a 1-1 draw against Sion, with his replacement Jürgen Klopp now having the chance to get off on the right foot against Rubin.

A 0-0 draw against Tottenham in his first game in charge left the 48-year-old to conclude: "We did not use our skills, we were a little bit too hectic, eager." Klopp's very first European game was a 4-0 home win against Armenian side Mika with Mainz back in 2005, but his first UEFA fixture as Dortmund boss was less thrilling: a 2-0 home loss to Udinese in 2008.
Liverpool v Rubin – 21.05CET

Didier Tholot with Bordeaux in 1996
Didier Tholot with Bordeaux in 1996©Getty Images

Tholot back at Bordeaux
Against all odds, inexperienced Sion are top of Group B – something that will give their French coach Didier Tholot reason to be proud as he takes his side to one of his old clubs. The 51-year-old played for Les Girondins from 1995-97, and featured in the side that reached the 1995/96 UEFA Cup final, losing 5-1 on aggregate to Bayern München.

"It's really fantastic to be able to go back and play against them in the same competition," the coach said. "My children live in Bordeaux too, so that's nice. One thing is certain and that is that this is a club I respect and I am really looking forward to playing there – especially at the new stadium."
Bordeaux v Sion – 21.05CET

Group G
Glum Rosenborg head for Lazio
Rosenborg may not be bursting with optimism as they embark on their 2,400km journey south from Trondheim to Rome; the Norwegian side have played in 14 games against Italian sides and have won only one of them – a 2-1 UEFA Champions League group stage win at AC Milan in 1996.

More annoyingly, a 1-1 weekend draw against Bodø/Glimt robbed fans of a title celebration in Trondheim. Rosenborg are nine points clear at the top of the table with three games remaining – and have a +28 goal difference over their only remaining title rivals, Stabæk. It would take something truly cataclysmic to deny them a 23rd Norwegian title.
Lazio v Rosenborg – 19.00CET

Lokomotiv beat Spartak on Sunday
Lokomotiv beat Spartak on Sunday©Getty Images

Group H
Lokomotiv on the right track
Nevio Scala's Beşiktaş beat Yuri Semin's Lokomotiv 6-1 on aggregate in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round – a sobering result for the Russian club as the sides meet again in Europe. However, positive feelings abound at Lokomotiv, who have won both of their Group H games, making this their best ever start to a UEFA group stage campaign.

On Sunday, Lokomotiv won 2-1 at fierce rivals Spartak Moskva. "I am very happy, we all are," said midfielder Aleksei Miranchuk, who came in for the injured Dmitri Tarasov. "But we don't have time for celebrations now. The Beşiktaş match is coming very soon."
Lokomotiv v Beşiktaş – 19.00CET

Group I
Kalinić flourishing at Fiorentina
The Viola's on-loan Poland midfielder Jakub Błaszczykowski can deliver further body blows to stricken Lech – a club where he was an unsuccessful trialist as a youngster – as they head out with a new coach on matchday three. Maciej Skorża was fired last week with the Polish champions bottom of the table after 12 games of the new Ekstraklasa season.

Fiorentina lost at Napoli at the weekend, despite Nikola Kalinić's fifth goal in seven Serie A games: "I simply adore him," team-mate Borja Valero said of the summer arrival from UEFA Europa League finalists Dnipro. "He is always moving around; he is the perfect forward for a midfielder who makes assists."
Fiorentina v Lech – 19.00CET

Jan Vertonghen has Anderlecht fans in the family
Jan Vertonghen has Anderlecht fans in the family©Getty Images

Group J
Spurs' Belgian connection
The talk ahead of this Group J fixture may have focused on the glorious past, with Keith Burkinshaw's Spurs having beating Paul Van Himst's Anderlecht 4-3 on penalties at White Hart Lane after a pair of 1-1 draws in the 1984 UEFA Cup final. However, on this occasion, a fourth 1-1 draw between the clubs would suit neither side. Anderlecht are without a victory in five European games (D3 L2), and Spurs have not won in their last three European away fixtures (D1 L2).

One of four Belgians on Spurs' books – along with Toby Alderweireld, Moussa Dembélé and Nacer Chadli – Jan Vertonghen said of the game: "I played Anderlecht twice with Ajax. It was special, and nice for my family, some of whom are Anderlecht fans."
Anderlecht v Tottenham, 19.00CET

Group K
Schalke fired by 'nuts' fans
Schalke can settle a very old score as they take on Sparta home and away in Group L; back in the 1972/73 European Cup Winners' Cup, Tadeáš Kraus's Sparta defeated Ivica Horvat's Schalke 4-2 on aggregate to reach the only UEFA semi-final in their history – which they lost to AC Milan.

An exhausting home win against Hertha Berlin at the weekend, meanwhile, has been seen as a showcase for Schalke's newfound team ethic, captain Benedikt Höwedes saying: "You could see at times that we have grown together as a unit. That's a measure of our team spirit. The crowd went nuts - that was great."
Schalke v Sparta, 19.00CET

Ljubinko Drulović led Serbia to the 2013 U19 title
Ljubinko Drulović led Serbia to the 2013 U19 title©Sportsfile

Group L
Drulović out to maintain Partizan push
Partizan won both of their opening Group L fixtures – and have never lost at home to Spanish opponents (W3 D2) – but European results have been in stark contrast to their domestic form this season. Coach Zoran Milinković stepped down last week with the Serbian champions well off the pace in the title race.

His replacement Ljubinko Drulović said: "We are like two different teams; the one that is bad in the league and the one that has six points in Europe. We have to work fast, because Athletic are the strongest team in the group. I expect us to make a new start and show what we can do in this game. Our target is the knockout phase, and we must be brave and smart."
Partizan v Athletic, 19.00CET

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