5 things to know about the Europa League

Past European glories counted for nothing in the first round in the Europa League two weeks ago, with Valencia and PSV Eindhoven humiliated at home by tournament debutants Swansea and Ludogorets Razgrad. Where will the surprises come from on matchday two? Here are five things to know about Thursday's Europa League matches:


EYE-CATCHING SWANS: With Denmark great Michael Laudrup in charge, perhaps it's no surprise to see Swansea producing the kind of slick, easy-on-the-eye football that's proving to be the envy of the top teams in England and now in Europe. The Welsh club marked its return to European football with an eye-catching 3-0 win at Valencia on the opening matchday, and faces Swiss team St. Gallen at home. "We don't know when Swansea will be in Europe next, so we need to take advantage and enjoy it," Laudrup said. Unheralded Fulham reached the final against all odds in 2010. Can Swansea do the same?

SPENDERS vs. SELLERS: Tottenham spent the summer buying players, Anzhi Makhachkala spent it selling them. So while Spurs' exciting new signing, Christian Eriksen, was helping his team to a 3-0 win over Tromso two weeks ago, Anzhi was left bemoaning the loss of the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Willian sold following a downturn in the club's financial fortunes as it drew 0-0 at Sheriff Tiraspol in Moldova. Tottenham is flying high in the Premier League, while Anzhi hasn't won a game this season and is bottom of the Russian standings.

The sides are heading in opposite directions going into their match in Ramenskoye.

PORTUGUESE CONNECTION: Lyon's home game against Guimaraes will be the 16th time the French side has faced Portuguese opposition in European competitions, dating all the way to the old Fairs Cup. Even though seven-time French champion Lyon has a much better European pedigree than the visitors, reaching the Champions League semifinals three years ago, it has a poor record against Portuguese clubs overall, winning only four of 15 matches. Lisandro Lopez joined Lyon from Porto in 2009, while four Portuguese players have worn the Lyon jersey, the most famous being attacking midfielder Mario Coluna nicknamed 'O Monstro Sagrado' (The Sacred Monster) who signed in 1970 after winning 10 league titles with Benfica alongside the great Eusebio. Central midfielder Tiago also enjoyed a successful spell, winning two titles with Lyon after joining from Chelsea in 2006, while Anthony Lopes will be in goal for Lyon on Thursday.

SEVILLA-FREIBURG UNDER STRICT SURVEILLANCE: Football fans attending the Sevilla-Freiburg match at Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium are set to have plenty of company from the Spanish police after the Interior Ministry declared it a "high risk" encounter. In a statement, it says Spain's State Commission against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport fears the clash could create a security risk and forces will be deployed to "ensure the safety and compliance of those attending the event." The statement did not reveal if Spain had received specific intelligence detailing suspected violence between fans, but police and security forces have been placed on high alert ahead of the match, it said. Sevilla was beaten 2-1 by Estoril in its Group H opener.

STRIKER-LESS FIORENTINA: After starting off with a 3-0 win against Pacos de Ferreira, Fiorentina has a problem heading into the Group E match against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk it has no fit striker. New signing Mario Gomez is still out with a knee injury, Giuseppe Rossi was forced off in the 2-2 draw against Parma with a muscle problem and youngster Ante Rebic is also out for three weeks. Rossi's absence is a particular blow to coach Vincenzo Montella, as the U.S.-born forward has been in stellar form, scoring six goals in seven games and proving he is back to his best following almost two years out with injuries. Fiorentina lost 2-1 at Inter Milan last week after taking the lead, and then dropped more points against Parma on Monday following a last-gasp equaliser.


Jerome Pugmire in Paris, Harold Heckle in Madrid, and Daniella Matar in Turin, Italy contributed.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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