The final Group Stage fixtures of UEFA Europa League 2011/12 take place for the teams in groups D, E, F, J, K and L on the evening of Wednesday 14th December 2011.
With the top two clubs from each group joining the eight third placed teams from the Champions League Group Stage in the hat for the Knockout Round of 32, there is everything to play for in many of tonight’s fixtures. Below is a full rundown of how things stand on the final Group Stage round for these clubs.
When the Group Stage teams were drawn, few would have expected the mighty Lazio to be going into the final round of group fixtures in third place, level on 6 points with FC Vaslui, but that is exactly the picture that has been painted by the Europa League this season. Lazio host the group winners, Sporting Lisbon, knowing that anything short of victory will put them in a nerve-wracking position of relying on FC Zurich to overturn FC Vaslui. Vaslui hold perhaps the better chance of progress as a result, as a win on their part could well see Lazio out of the competition.
Top side Stoke travel to second placed Besiktas knowing that they are definitely in the hat for the next round. Besiktas need at least a point to guarantee their place in the Round of 32, though they are three points ahead of Dynamo Kiev, who must win against confirmed bottom club Maccabi Tel-Aviv to stand any dim hope of progressing.
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In Group F, there is everything to play for in both matches – for there are currently two clubs locked on 7 points each. Paris Saint Germain will need a home victory over runaway group winners Atletico Bilbao to maintain the pressure on Red Bull Salzburg, who sit slightly above them on Goal Difference. Salzburg travel to Slovan Bratislava – who have only one point from this Group Stage to date – looking for a win that would most likely carry them through to the knock-out phase.
Shalke 04 have won Group J, as they are 5 points clear of Maccabi Haifa, whom they face this evening, but the other three clubs in this pool of four have everything to play for. Maccabi Haifa are second on 6 points, only one point ahead of each of Steaua Bucharest and AEK Larnaca who face each other this evening in Bucharest knowing that a win could easily carry them through, should Shalke orevent Haifa from achieving anything better than a point. A lot of nervy glances at the scoreboard may be taking place this evening – for fans of all three clubs.
FC Twente are fully six points clear at the top of Group K, so they’ll be going through at the top of this group, and they are most likely to be joined by Fulham of the Barclays Premier League, if they can get a victory over current bottom club Odense BK at Craven Cottage. Should Fulham fail to gather a win, then they could perish, providing Wisla Krakow win their home match with Twente: the Polish side are just a point behind the Londoners going into tonights final group stage fixture.
Anderlecht and Lokomotic Moscow play each other tonight knowing that both clubs are already assured of a place in the next round. If Anderlecht can avoid a heavy defeat at home tonight, they’ll win the group, as they are three points clear, and have a significant goal difference advantage. Sturm Graz v AEK Athens is a dead rubber, though the latter club has some pride at stake, for they would be the only team certain to have failed to gather a single point from this season’s Europa League Group Stage (Shamrock Rovers in Group A play on Thursday to overcome the same inauspicious record).
The teams in groups A, B, C, G, H and I will play on the evening of Thursday 15th December 2011, and the draw for the Round of 32 will take place on Friday 16th December 2011.
UEFA Europa League 2011/12 Group Stage Fixtures, Wednesday 14 December 2011
Kick-Off times are in Central European Time (CET) please adjust accordingly for your time zone.
- Besiktas v Stoke – Group E – Kick-Off (CET) 19:00
- Dynamo Kiev v Macc Tel-Aviv – Group E – Kick-Off (CET) 19:00
- FC Zurich v FC Vaslui – Group D – Kick-Off (CET) 19:00
- Lazio v Sporting – Group D – Kick-Off (CET) 19:00
- Paris SG v Athletic Bilbao – Group F – Kick-Off (CET) 19:00
- Slovan Bratislava v Red Bull Salzburg – Group F – Kick-Off (CET) 19:00
- Anderlecht v Lokomotiv Moscow – Group L – Kick-Off (CET) 21:05
- Fulham v Odense BK – Group K – Kick-Off (CET) 21:05
- Maccabi Haifa v Schalke 04 – Group J – Kick-Off (CET) 21:05
- Steaua Bucharest v AEK Larnaca – Group J – Kick-Off (CET) 21:05
- Sturm Graz v AEK Athens – Group L – Kick-Off (CET) 21:05
- Wisla Krakow v FC Twente – Group K – Kick-Off (CET) 21:05