Issues to Watch for in the Europa League This Week

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 27, 2013

SWANSEA, WALES - NOVEMBER 10:  Wilfried Bony of Swansea City celebrates scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Stoke City at Liberty Stadium on November 10, 2013 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Following another rapturous round of UEFA Champions League excitement, Thursday once again brings us dessert in the form of the Europa League.

With Gameweek 5 rapidly approaching we take a good look at some of the major issues of the week, starting in Porto.

Pacos to Finally Produce?

FLORENCE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 19: Marcos Romeu of FC Pacos de Ferreira in action during the Uefa Europa League Group E match between ACF Fiorentina and FC Pacos de Ferreira at Stadio Artemio Franchi on September 19, 2013 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Gabri
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Pacos de Ferreira have had a wretched season so far.

After chancing their way into the Champions League play-offs following a stellar 2012-13 season, the Portuguese club crashed out to Zenit St. Petersburg and used it as a marker for the season ahead.

They've slipped to 15th place in the Liga Sagres having accumulated just eight points from 10 matches, and not one player on their roster has scored more than a single goal this season—in the Europa League or in a domestic competition.

They sit bottom of Group E, level on points with minnows Pandurii. Qualification is out of the question now, but their home tie with Serie A giants Fiorentina will really get the blood pumping.

Will it serve as a platform, should they up their game, to grab a much-needed win and with it a shot in the arm?

Betis Bite Back?

SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 10: Markus Steinhofer of Real Betis Balompie reacts during the La Liga match between Real Betis Balompie and FC Barcelona at Estadio Benito Villamarin on November 10, 2013 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Betis endured a shameful weekend in La Liga, getting pasted 4-0 by local rivals Sevilla in the Seville derby.

The shocking thing is it could have been a more, and a 7-0 scoreline probably wasn't out of the question that night at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

The disappointment is in tune with a woeful season so far for the Beticos, who sit bottom of La Liga with just nine points. This season was supposed to be a big one—some were suggesting they could pip Real Sociedad and Co. to fourth—but instead Pepe Mel's men have fallen flat.

That they are in the Europa League is testament to the wonderful 2012-13 season they had, and with a repeat campaign looking extremely unlikely, Betis must make the most of their European nights.

They host Lyon, who have also underwhelmed in Europe this year, and the pair have scored just six goals between them.

Much like Pacos' problems, a big win against a traditional continental giant could provide the spark Mel's troops need.

Swansea to Guarantee Top Spot?

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Alejandro Pozuelo of Swansea leaps over the challenge from Brede Hangeland of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Swansea City at Craven Cottage on November 23, 2013 in London, England.  (Phot
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The Liberty Stadium will stage what is arguably the tie of the night, where Swansea City will welcome traditional powerhouses Valencia to South Wales.

A win for Los Che will guarantee them top spot in Group A, while a draw or win for the Swans will ensure they qualify for the latter stages of the competition in their first-ever appearance at the tournament.

Michael Laudrup's men will be buoyed by the fact that they beat their opponents 3-0 at Mestalla earlier this year, but that game was the source of a cacophony of errors and mistakes.

Miroslav Dukic's side have improved a little since then, and while their Liga form leaves a lot to be desired, they won't present the game on a platter to Wilfried Bony and Co. this time around.

The Welsh outfit are up against it given the loss of Michu and Wayne Routledge, but the home crowd will be a major factor.