7 Things to Watch in the Europa League This Week

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterOctober 2, 2013

7 Things to Watch in the Europa League This Week

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    The first slate of games in this season's UEFA Europa League was action-packed, exciting and full of entertainment. Let's hope the second installment follows suit.

    We've picked out seven things to watch for as you peruse the action, from Wilfried Bony's brilliance to the woeful slump Pacos de Ferreira are looking to kick.

    Enjoy the slideshow! 

How Highly Do Spurs Value the Competition?

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    One of the very last things on any Premier League manager's wishlist when it comes to European draws is a sizable trip to Russia.

    Tottenham Hotspur drew the short straw when they landed Anzhi Makhachkala, and while they are not the same force they were this time last year, the travelling kills.

    It's a fantastic opportunity to see just how highly Andre Villas-Boas values this competition based on the squad he sends, and there will be several youngsters vying for the chance to impress in Dagestan. 

Can Valencia Turn It Around?

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    Valencia started this competition in the worst possible fashion, losing 3-0 at home to Swansea City and gifting Michael Laudrup a victorious return to Spain.

    Their early league form was poor as well, but Miroslav Dukic has ironed out a formula that has allowed them to win their last three straight domestic games, with the away win at Granada arguably the most impressive.

    They also travel to Russia to take on Kuban Krasnodar, and it could be the moment los Che get their European season on track. Lose and it could be curtains. 

Wilfried Bony

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    Michael Laudrup has taken it easy with Wilfried Bony so far, acclimating him slowly to life in the Premier League via a succession of substitute appearances.

    He's played almost every minute of the Swans' Europa League action, though, and it's worth tuning in to Swansea-St. Gallen purely to watch him in action.

    He's a magnificent forward, so cool on ball and his linkup play with Michu is brilliant. The sooner Laudrup nits them together, the quicker his side will soar. 

The Tie of the Night

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    The tie with the best quality on both sides is, without doubt, Dnipro vs. Fiorentina.

    With the Viola slipping a little in Serie A this week, Vincenzo Montella faces a dilemma over how strong a side to send to Ukraine to take on Juande Ramos' outfit.

    Any chance you get to watch Yevhen Konoplyanka, we implore you to seize it.

    It could serve as an ideal platform for Guillermo Cuadrado to return to Fiorentina's starting XI, too, giving the aforementioned Ukrainian winger a run for his money in terms of exciting play. 

Kick-Starting Pacos

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    Since earning a surprise third-placed finish in the Liga Sagres last season, and contesting Zenit St. Petersburg for a place in the UEFA Champions League two months ago, Pacos de Ferreira have crashed hard.

    They're bottom of Portugal's top tier with just four points from six games and lost their opening UEFA Europa League tie at the Artemio Franchi 3-0.

    If there's a fixture that can truly kick-start their abysmal season, it's Pandurii at home. 

An Upset in Seville?

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    Sevilla look a little ragged after selling so many first-team players over the summer, but they'll still be expected to secure a home win over Freiburg on Thursday.

    A glance at the Bundesliga table shows the visitors in 17th place, winless and down nine in terms of goal differential. That's not Freiburg, though, and it's only a matter of time before they put their season back together and balance the rigours of domestic and European football.

    The Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan could well be the stage. 

Dutch Improvement

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    The opening slate of matches was not kind to Dutch football, with PSV Eindhoven inexplicably falling at home to Ludogorets Razgrad and AZ Alkmaar scraping the barrel for a 1-0 win at Maccabi Haifa.

    Phillip Cocu's side lost at the weekend also, and will travel to Chornomorets with the sole focus of getting their form back on track with a win. AZ host PAOK Thessaloniki, and they'll be widely expected to triumph on home turf.

    Dutch football fans will be hoping their representation turns the corner this week.