UEFA Europa League 2012: Teams That Must Improve Play or Face Elimination

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UEFA Europa League 2012: Teams That Must Improve Play or Face Elimination
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While the Champions League is the sexy and elite European tournament to watch, we shouldn't forget about the competitive Europa League that is in full swing. While it may not feature the world's biggest sides, it still has household names this year such as Liverpool, Napoli, Atlético Madrid and Inter Milan.

The competition includes a whole slew of teams that need to improve their play quickly or face elimination, as well. 

Those are the teams we will be interested in during this article. From a team that has seriously hit the wall in league play to a talented group that finds itself bottom in the standings—and one team that can't seem to play with any measure of consistency this year—these three teams need to rediscover their form or forget about moving on.

 

Tottenham

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Fresh off a 5-2 spanking against league rival Arsenal, Spurs need to pull themselves together and earn a much-needed win against Lazio.

Tottenham have lost four of their last five games in all competitions, to Manchester City, Arsenal, Norwich City and Wigan. If Spurs fails to beat group leader Lazio, they could be in serious danger of failing to advance beyond the group stages in the Europa League as well. 

Tottenham have shown glitters of greatness this year, but they've disappointed just as often. If they don't earn a much-needed three points against Lazio, even more heartbreak could be on the horizon.

 

Udinese

Dino Panato/Getty Images

It's hard to believe the Italian side sits at the bottom of Group A with four points, behind Anzhi Makhachkala, Liverpool and Young Boys. Of course, a win against Anzhi Makhachkala could put them back in the driver's seat.

Keep an eye on Antonio Di Natale, who has eight goals in Serie A play for Udinese this season. If there's one player who must step up and leave his imprint on this game, it's the threatening forward. 

The side hasn't won in nearly a month in all competitions, with four ties and a loss since they last won on October 28 against Roma, 3-2. Now would be the time to end that streak with a victory. Their Europa League lives hang in the balance.

 

Young Boys

Dino Panato/Getty Images

Here's a fun fact for you: In all competitions, Young Boys have only won consecutive games once this season, and the streak ended at two wins. 

Since October, the team is 2-3-2, an inconsistent mark that doesn't bode well as the side meets Liverpool in a key Group A clash. Both teams are tied for second in the group with six points, trailing Anzhi Makhachkala, which leads the group at seven points.

One positive for Young Boys: Neither Luis Suarez nor Steven Gerrard will start for the English side (via The Telegraph). The door is open for Young Boys to earn a vital three points. Don't worry, the team is coming off a tie, so we don't need to expect them to actually win consecutive matches.

 

Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets predict crazy things like Baylor upsets. Seriously.

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