Europa League 2013: Predictions, Preview and Key Matches

Greg Johnson@gregianjohnsonSpecial to Bleacher ReportNovember 7, 2013

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 24:  The 'No to racism' banners before the UEFA Europa League Group A match between Swansea City and FC Kuban Krasnodar at Liberty Stadium on October 24, 2013 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Matchday 4 in the Europa League sees the competition's three remaining British clubs battle for control of their groups.

The progress made by Swansea City and Wigan Athletic in the group stage so far has illustrated not only the surrealism of last year's English Cup winners, but also the strength of the teams competing in the Premier League and the Championship respectively.

Tottenham Hotspur stand on the cusp of ensuring that they are a mathematical certainty for the knockout stages. They are the group leaders going into the next batch of games, with three wins out of three and no goals conceded.

Andre Villas-Boas is one of the few Premier League managers to have spoken out in support of the Europa League in recent years, per The Guardian, and will be keen to instill a winning mentality within his renovated squad by potentially winning the trophy again. He was a Europa League-winning manager in 2011 with Porto.

Below is a full rundown of the fixtures on matchday, followed by previews of the three key matches set to take place across Europe on Thursday, November 7.

Group A: Kuban Krasnodar vs. Swansea City - 5 p.m.

Europa League fixtures - Thursday November 7 2013
Time (GMT)GroupHomePredictionAway
5 p.m.AKuban Krasnodar1-2Swansea City
5 p.m.DRubin Kazan1-1Wigan Athletic
6 p.m.AFC St Gallen0-2Valencia
6 p.m.BLudogorets Razgrad2-0FC Chornomorets Odesa
6 p.m.BPSV Eindhoven3-0Dinamo Zagreb
6 p.m.CEsbjerg fB2-0Elfsborg
6 p.m.CStandard Liege0-2FC Red Bull Salzburg
6 p.m.DNK Maribor1-1SV Zulte Waregem
6 p.m.EFC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk2-0Pacos de Ferreira
6 p.m.EPandurii Targu-Jiu0-2Fiorentina
6 p.m.FAPOEL Nicosia1-1Bordeaux
6 p.m.FMaccabi Tel Aviv1-2Eintracht Frankfurt
8:05 p.m.GFC Thun0-2Dynamo Kiev
8:05 p.m.GRapid Vienna0-0Genk
8:05 p.m.HEstoril-Praia1-0SC Freiburg
8:05 p.m.HSevilla3-0Slovan Liberec
8:05 p.m.IHNK Rijeka0-1Olympique Lyonnais
8:05 p.m.IVitoria Guimaraes1-1Real Betis
8:05 p.m.JLazio2-1Apollon Limassol
8:05 p.m.JLegia Warsaw0-2Trabzonspor
8:05 p.m.KTottenham Hotspur3-0Sheriff Tiraspol
8:05 p.m.KTromso1-0Anzhi Makhachkala
8:05 p.m.LAZ Alkmaar3-0Shakhtar Karagandy
8:05 p.m.LMaccabi Haifa0-2PAOK Salonika
BBC Sport

While the hype that surrounded Michael Laudrup's team last season has somewhat faded, due to Swansea's steady position in the Premier League now expected rather than surprising, the Swans have been impressive in their first Europa League campaign.

Michu and co. currently top Group A with two wins and a draw from three matches, and they are ahead of second-placed Valencia by a point. Unfortunately, the Spaniard is set to miss his latest venture onto the continent due to an ankle injury.

Winger Pablo Hernandez is also out due to a problem with his thigh, while Garry Monk remains sidelined with a knee issue. Family reasons means that Jonjo Shelvey will not travel to Russia.

SWANSEA, WALES - OCTOBER 24:  Swansea player Michu (c) beats Aleksei Kozlov (r) to the ball during the UEFA Europa League Group A match between Swansea City and FC Kuban Krasnodar at Liberty Stadium on October 24, 2013 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Fo
Stu Forster/Getty Images

In contrast to Swansea's form in Europe, Krasnodar have only managed to pick up one point so far in the group stage and reside at the foot of Group A.

Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse has been the Cossacks' forward of choice in the Europa League, and it was the Frenchman who scored the injury-time equaliser from the spot in Swansea to draw the two sides level at 1-1 in October.

Having been beaten by Cardiff City in the South Wales derby in their last Premier League game, Swansea will head to Russia looking to bounce back by bettering their result against Krasnodar at home.

Prediction: Krasnodar 1-2 Swansea

KRASNODAR, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 3:  Djibril Cisse of FC Kuban Krasnodar in action during the UEFA Europa League group stage match between FC Kuban Krasnodar and Valencia CF held on October 3, 2013 at the Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar, Russia. (Photo by EuroFootb
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Group D: Rubin Kazan vs. Wigan Athletic - 5 p.m.

First place takes on second in Group D as Wigan travel to Kazan hoping to leapfrog the group leaders on Matchday 4.

Manchester United's Nick Powell has been Wigan's cutting edge in the Europa League this season, with the loanee midfielder having scored three goals in three games in Group D.

The Englishman provided the equaliser in the Latics' 1-1 draw with Kazan at home in October and also scored the winner in their 2-1 win over Huddersfield during the weekend.

Wigan manager Owen Coyle has been playing Powell as his side's main attacking midfielder and will be hoping that the Crewe Alexandra academy product will be able to produce more decisive attacking contributions in what should be a difficult contest in Kazan.

WIGAN, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Nick Powell of Wigan Athletic is fouled by Roman Eremenko of Rubin Kazan during the UEFA Europa League Group D match between Wigan Athletic and Rubin Kazan on October 24, 2013 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The Tatars go into the game with a two point lead over their visitors, although they have not won a match in any competitions since their 5-1 thrashing of Anzhi Makhachkala on October 6.

While defensive midfielder Yann M'Vila may be the most recognisable name in their squad list, he has by no means been their top performer of late.

Instead of concentrating on containing the Frenchman, Wigan must instead focus on stopping Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon, who has been Kazan's main goal threat with six goals in ten games.

Coyle will be without Jean Beausejour while 21-year-old keeper Lee Nicholls is likely to take the place of the injured Scott Carson in goal.

Prediction: Kazan 1-1 Wigan

WIGAN, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Jordi Gomez of Wigan Athletic in action with Chris Mavinga of Rubin Kazan during the UEFA Europa League Group D match between Wigan Athletic and Rubin Kazan on October 24, 2013 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Gett
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Group K: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sheriff Tiraspol - 8:05 p.m.

Just one more win will be enough for Tottenham to confirm their qualification into the first knockout stage of this year's Europa League.

With the end in sight, Villas-Boas has spoken of the need to finish the job against Sheriff at White Hart Lane, as reported by, so that he can use the two remaining fixtures in Group K to rotate the squad and give a number of exciting young prospects an early taste of European football.

The North Londoners' opponents are yet to win away from home in Europe this season and are currently in third place with two points behind second-placed Anzhi, who have four.

Considering Tottenham's defensive strength at present—Villas-Boas' team have conceded zero goals in three group games—and the fact that Spurs ran out as deserved 2-0 winners last month in Tiraspol, it's hard to see how the Moldavians can get anything out of their trip to England.

In terms of injuries, Villas-Boas will be without Danny Rose, Sandro and Zeki Fryers while Emmanuel Adebayor is unlikely to feature due to an ongoing dispute with the manager.

Prediction: Spurs 3-0 Sheriff


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