Trabzonspor’s unbeaten run to be tested in Europa clash with Lazio
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
French player Florent Malouda dribbles past an opponent during Trabzonspor’s Europa League game against Apollon Limassol. Malouda’s experience will be needed again when Trabzonspor faces solid Lazio in the Europa League tonight. AFP photoTrabzonspor’s unbeaten run in Europe will be tested against Lazio in a Europa League Group J game tonight.
The Black Sea Storm is on a seven-match unbeaten streak since the start of the Europa League preliminaries, and it started the groups with a 2-1 comeback win over Apollon Limassol two weeks ago.
The game marks a return to Turkey for Lazio, whose 2-0 loss at Fenerbahçe in last season’s UEFA Europa League quarterfinals was its most recent continental away fixture. The defeat in Istanbul ended Lazio’s six-game unbeaten run on the road. Trabzonspor boasts former Chelsea stars Florent Malouda and Jose Bosingwa, but its most prolific player so far is Paulo Henrique, who scored six goals in seven starts so far.
The game at the Hüseyin Avni Aker Stadium starts at 8 p.m.
Elsewhere, Swansea City will be looking to build on its stunning win at Valencia when it hosts Swiss side St. Gallen at the Liberty Stadium tonight.
Swansea thumped Valencia to come away with a 3-0 win from its opening Group A trip to the Mestalla, while the Swiss also won their opener at home to Russian outfit Kuban Krasnodar.
Goalkeeper Michel Vorm believes that Swansea can take heart from its record at home in European competition this season despite injury worries and a 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal in the Premier League at the weekend.
The Welsh outfit could be without captain Ashley Williams with an ankle ligament problem, with right-back Angel Rangel (ankle) and wingers Roland Lamah (toe) and Pablo Hernandez (thigh) also in a race for fitness.
“We have a few injuries which is disappointing, but we have coped quite well and I don’t think we feel tired,” said Vorm. “If we want to grow as a team and a club we want to play in Europe.
“We have to make sure we are fit to play all those games.”
“Ash is very important for us and Angel is also a player with a lot of experience,” said Vorm.
“Ash is a leader, of the team, of the group, on the pitch and off the pitch. “It’s hard when he’s missing, but he is injured and we have to cope with it.”
Vorm believes Swansea’s past record at home, with European victories against both Swedish side Malmo and Petrolul Ploiesti of Romania this season, will boost morale. “We have played some of the big sides, but in he past we have made it a bit more difficult for them at home,” added Vorm. “That’s something I think we have to do.” Meanwhile, Valencia, the 2004 UEFA Cup winners and two-time Champions League finalists, is desperate for all three points as they travel to Kuban Krasnodar, who lost 2-0 to St Gallen on matchday one.
English side Tottenham Hotspur, who got its campaign off to a winning start with a 3-0 victory over Norwegian outfit Tromso, also travels to Russia when they meet Anzhi Makhachkala in Group K. FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic, also bidding to win promotion back to the Premier League and impress in Europe, will be looking to get a home win when it hosts Slovenian club Maribor after drawing 0-0 away to Zulte Waregem in Belgium in its Group D opener.
In other games, Fiorentina of Italy are hoping to follow their 3-0 win over Pacos Ferreira of Portugal when they travel to Group E rivals Dnipro of Ukraine, who also won their opener.
French Cup holders Bordeaux will try to put its chaotic start to the season behind it against Group F rivals Maccabi Tel-Aviv of Israel as Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt go to Croatia to face Rijeka.
PSV Eindhoven, the 1988 European Cup winners, travel to Chornomorets Odessa after a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria in Group B, and Dynamo Kiev visits Rapid Vienna afer losing 1-0 at home to Belgian Genk in Group G.
Meanwhile, Sevilla is at home to Freiburg in Group H.