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Europa League 2013: Predictions and Preview for Thursday's Crucial Action

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Europa League 2013: Predictions and Preview for Thursday's Crucial Action
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With this week's Champions League matters settled, Thursday casts the spotlight back on the Europa League.

In the penultimate round of this season's group stage, some of the continent's biggest clubs find themselves clinging on to advance to the knockout section of the tournament.

Looking ahead to Thursday's packed schedule, read on for a prediction of how the evening's fixtures will pan out, as well as a more in-depth look at how England's flag bearers will fare.

Thursday, Nov. 28 Europa League Predictions
Matchup Time Prediction
Kuban Krasnodar vs. St. Gallen 5 p.m. GMT/12 p.m. ET 1-1 Draw
Swansea City vs. Valencia 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 2-1 Swansea Win
Chornomorets Odesa vs. Dinamo Zagreb 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 0-0 Draw
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. PSV 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 2-2 Draw
Elfsborg vs. FC Red Bull Salzburg 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 3-1 Red Bull Salzburg Win
Esbjerg fB vs. Standard Liège 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 1-0 Esbjerg Win
Rubin Kazan vs. NK Maribor 5 p.m. GMT/12 p.m. ET 2-0 Rubin Kazan Win
Wigan vs. SV Zulte Waregem 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 1-0 Wigan Win
FC Dnipro vs. Pandurii Targu-Jiu 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 2-0 Dnipro Win
Paços de Ferreira vs. Fiorentina 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 3-0 Fiorentina Win
Apoel Nicosia vs. Maccabi Tel Aviv 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 2-1 Apoel Win
Bordeaux vs. Eintracht Frankfurt 8:05 p.m. GMT/3:05 p.m. ET 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt Win
KRC Genk vs. Dynamo Kiev 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 1-0 Dynamo Win
SK Rapid Vienna vs. FC Thun 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 1-0 Rapid Win
Sevilla vs. Estoril-Praia 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 2-0 Sevilla Win
Slovan Liberec vs. Sport-Club Freiburg 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 2-1 Slovan Liberec Win
HNK Rijeka vs. Vitória Guimarães 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 1-1 Draw
Lyon vs. Real Betis 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 1-1 Draw
Legia Warsaw vs. Lazio 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 2-0 Lazio Win
Trabzonspor vs. Apollon Limassol 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 3-0 Trabzonspor Win
Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Sheriff Tiraspol 5 p.m. GMT/12 p.m. ET 2-1 Anzhi Win
Tromsø vs. Tottenham 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 3-1 Tottenham Win
Shakhter Karagandy vs. PAOK Salonika 3 p.m. GMT: 10 a.m. ET 1-0 PAOK Win
AZ Alkmaar vs. Maccabi Haifa 6 p.m. GMT/1 p.m. ET 3-1 AZ Win

BBC Sport


Swansea City vs. Valencia

Valencia have largely been a force to contend with in their Europa League campaign thus far and have already sealed their place in the next phase of this year's competition, something Swansea City can replicate with a win on Thursday.

And it just so happens that Michael Laudrup's men have been the only side able to restrain the Spaniards in Group A, winning 3-0 at the Mestalla in what was a fairly surprising opening to the Swans' European bow.

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Having said that, even a point could be enough for Swansea to advance to the next round if St. Gallen fail to beat Kuban Krasnodar.

The Daily Mail's Riath Al-Samarrai confirmed that winger Pablo Hernandez was present at Wednesday's Liberty Stadium press conference, so there's a good chance the Spaniard could return from a long layoff against his former side:

Valencia will be far more aware of Swansea's challenge this time around and will be glad that forward Michu is unavailable, but one would think the Welsh hosts have enough about them to pull off a Spanish double.

Prediction: Swansea City 2-1 Valencia


Wigan Athletic vs. Zulte Waregem

Wigan's performances in Europe this season have been surprising, and Owen Coyle now finds his side second in Group D. However, matters are tight in Group D, with just two points between Athletic and last place.

Depending on how Rubin Kazan deal with the early kickoff against Maribor, the Latics could book their place in the next round with a win over Zulte Waregem on Thursday. The Belgians are the most goal-shy side in the pool, having scored just two in four games.

As confirmed by the Daily Mail, Coyle looks to have succeeded in loaning Manchester United youngster Will Keane, but the forward won't be ready for the visit of Francky Dury's side.

Having drawn 0-0 against Zulte Waregem in their group opener, there's really no picking apart the two sides competing to advance from their pool, but the DW Stadium hosts will once again be looking to other United loanee Nick Powell for inspiration.

The youngster has three goals in his last three European outings and has been a very promising talent for the Latics this term.

Prediction: Wigan Athletic 1-0 Zulte Waregem


Tromso vs. Tottenham 

Tottenham are already assured a place in the round of 32 as one of the eight clubs already having done enough to advance, but three more points in Norway this week would also wrap up Group K's top spot.

Back in September, goals from Jermain Defoe and Christian Eriksen meant Tromso slipped to a 3-0 defeat at White Hart Lane, and Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping the cobwebs shown in Spurs' 6-0 demolition at Manchester City can be blown away with a much-improved outing at the Alfheim Stadion.

With nine goals to their name in four group games so far, Tottenham are by some margin the biggest attacking threat in their pool, with Anzhi Makhachkala, Sheriff Tiraspol and Thursday's opponents managing just five goals between them.

As BBC Sport reports, however, it will very much be a second-string team that takes the challenge on this week. Villas-Boas has left as many as 10 first-team players at home, knowing a point is all that's really needed to guarantee first-place progress.

Prediction: Tromso 1-3 Tottenham

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