UEFA Europa League: 6 Second-Leg Matches You Simply Can't Miss

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2013

UEFA Europa League: 6 Second-Leg Matches You Simply Can't Miss

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    The UEFA Europa League Round of 32 comes to a climax on Thursday, and it's clear to see we've got some enticing matchups to look forward to.

    Can Liverpool overturn their two-goal deficit on home soil to Russian powerhouse Zenit Saint Petersburg? Can Atletico Madrid pull off a similar feat against their Russian tormentors Rubin Kazan?

    Read on for six games you can't miss.

Liverpool vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg (0-2 Aggregate)

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    Beware the wounded animal.

    Liverpool exorcised their demons and got rid of their frustrations at the weekend in a barnstorming 5-0 win over in-form Swansea City, effectively laying down the gauntlet for Zenit Saint Petersburg.

    The reverse fixture at the Petrovsky Stadium was a bit of a nightmare for Brendan Rodgers, but the 2-0 scoreline doesn't reflect the nature of the game—Liverpool missed chance after chance and were left ruing what could have been.

    Prepare for a backlash!

Viktoria Plzen vs. Napoli (3-0 Aggregate)

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    When Napoli drew Czech side Viktoria Plzen in the Round of 32, many saw it as a free pass.

    Pavel Vrba didn't subscribe to that, though, and sent a strong XI to the Stadio San Paolo free of pressure and expectation. The result was an astonishing 3-0 scoreline.

    Vladimir Darida, Frantisek Rajtoral and Stanislav Tecl scored the goals while Matus Kozacik put in an impressive goalkeeping performance. 

    Walter Mazzarri will be angry; Marek Hamsik will likely start. Can the Partenopei stage an unbelievable comeback, or will Viktoria seal a historic victory? 

Metalist Kharkiv vs. Newcastle United (0-0 Aggregate)

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    Metalist Kharkiv are lucky to be in this tie at all, but the score is 0-0 after the Magpies had two contentious goals ruled out in the first leg.

    Watching the Zhovto-Syni is well worth your while. It will be interesting to see how the team adapts to playing without the recently departed Taison.

    Furthermore, what kind of a team will Alan Pardew take to Ukraine? Premier League survival is still very much the priority, so will he view it as a chance wasted and send the kids?

    Many questions to be answered in this one.

Lazio vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach (3-3 Aggregate)

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    This was an absolute firecracker. With six goals and a red card in the first leg, what excitement can we expect in the second?

    Both Lazio and Borussia Moenchengladbach are strong teams, making this one a prime-time tussle. The likes of Antonio Candreva, Hernanes, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Juan Arango are UEFA Champions League-calibre players, and an extra sprinkle of quality brings this one to life.

    The Biancocelesti did a fine job of rescuing a draw with 10 men at Borussia Park. Can they finish the job on home soil? 

Lyon vs. Tottenham (1-2 Aggregate)

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    Lyon proved they were a good match for an explosive Tottenham side at White Hart Lane and take a vital away goal back to the Stade Gerland. Meanwhile, with Gareth Bale in his side, Andre Villas-Boas will be confident that he can win any game.

    Something's got to give, and it will be interesting to see how Les Gones' organised, solid away tactics change when they're required to open up and go for it at home.

    With a 2-1 scoreline, nothing is predictable here.

Rubin Kazan vs. Atletico Madrid (2-0 Aggregate)

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    Rubin Kazan shocked world football by beating Atletico Madrid 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon.

    The Russians will now take their Spanish opponents back to Tatarstan and try to finish the job, and even Radamel Falcao has admitted he's not quite sure what happened during the first leg.

    The Colombian striker was making his first start in the competition as Diego Simeone moderated his fitness, and with two successive UEFA Europa League wins under his belt, we could see quite the reaction.