S.S. LAZIO v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC:
Andre Villas-Boas’ side travel to Rome on Thursday in what could turn out to be an important fixture for both sides as they try to progress through to the knock-out stages of the tournament. Spurs will be eager to have a better performance than in their 5-2 loss to arch-rivals Arsenal at the weekend but an away win at Lazio will no doubt be a difficult task.
If Lazio get the three points then they will definitely top the group but Spurs could also reach their goal of qualification with a win if Panathinaikos get a win or draw against Maribor in the other Group J fixture. Tottenham are still without Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul and Parker through injury. Caulker and Dembele could possibly return but would most likely not be 100% fit. Spurs have drawn their other two Group J away games 1-1 and I think this one could end up the same. Prediction: Lazio 1 Spurs 1
LIVERPOOL FC v BSC YOUNG BOYS:
With only 3 points separating first and last place, there is still all to play for in the final two games of Group A. All four teams still have a chance to qualify and that could make for a really exciting night of Europa League football in Group A. In the eyes of the Liverpool fans, their team have massively under-performed this season and a good run in the Europa League could give the players the massive confidence boost they need.
Interestingly, the Europa League is where Liverpool have not lacked goals, scoring an average of 2.25 goals per game compared to an average of only 1.42 goals in the Premier League. With Borini still injured, it will once again fall to Luis Suarez to score the goals that Liverpool endlessly seem in need of. I think this will be another close match to set up a nail-biting final round of group games next week. Prediction: Liverpool 2 Young Boys 2
NEWCASTLE UNITED FC v CS MARITIMO:
Newcastle are current leaders of Group D on 8 points, whereas Maritimo look likely to finish bottom with just 2 points from 4 games. However, one of those two points was obtained in a 0-0 draw with Newcastle in Portugal on the opening night of the Europa League group stage.
With 2 wins out of 2 at home and 2 draws out of 2 away from home, Newcastle have consolidated their position in the group by approaching their fixtures in Europe in a way that is typically seen as best by pundits. Newcastle’s growing injury list doesn’t help their cause though – Cabaye, Obertan, Perch, Gosling, Vuckic and Ryan Taylor are all out at the moment but Gutierrez should be fit to play. Newcastle are the better side and should get all 3 points, whatever strength side Alan Pardew chooses. Prediction: Newcastle 2 Maritimo 0