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Oh hello. Away from the action for a moment, Uefa has announced that the 2016 Champions League final will be held at San Siro in Milan, while the Europa League final will be held at St Jakob Park in Basel.
There’s an awful lot of pressure on Andros Townsend between now and January. He was constantly linked with a move away from Tottenham during the summer and gave the ball away immediately after coming on against Liverpool in the build-up to a goal. D’oh! He’s seen plenty of the ball on the right-hand side so far but is yet to take on the Partizan defence.
1 - Tottenham have failed to score in one of their last 10 away games in the Europa League. Threat.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2014
Jan Vertonghen gets his head on a Tottenham corner from the right and causes an almighty scramble inside the Partizan area. Harry Kane emerges with the ball and fires against the upright from a tight angle. Lively start!
Peeep! Peeeep! Leeeeetttt's Europa...
Enough with the trivia. It's STAT ATTACK time...
13 - Spurs won all 6 of their group games in the Europa League last season, and are unbeaten in 13 group stage matches in the EL. Cruise.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2014
Hold up... where’s that Scrabble board? FK Qarabag are playing! The Azerbaijani champions have already kicked off, in fact, but it's goalless at half-time against Ligue 1 side St Etienne. Their nickname is The Horsemen and their most famous player is current assistant Mushfig Huseynov, who is the club’s record appearance maker and all-time leading goalscorer. Ledge.
FK Qarabag v St Etienne (17:00) | Dnipro v Inter (18:00)
It’s a long way off yet but the final of the Europa League, to be played on May 27, will take place at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. It has a capacity of 56,826 and even has a retractable roof. Fancy stuff. Perhaps the stadium’s most memorable moment came when Mario Balotelli single-handedly destroyed Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 2012 and provided an image fit for a meme, as the kool kidz say, for years to come.
Not making up teams, honest - Estoril Praia do exist. The Portuguese hipster faves finished fourth in the Primeira Liga last season and boast national legend Pauleta among their former players. Speaking of former players, ex-PSV striker and football icon Ronaldo turns 38 today - he won this competition with Inter in 1998. Happy birthday, legend!
Panathinaikos v Dinamo Moscow | PSV v Estoril Praia (both 18:00)
Tottenham are two-time winners of this competition, or variations of it, and face a tough task in front of what’s expected to be a capacity crowd of over 30,000 Partizan fans. That number is sometimes expanded to 40,000 for rock concerts, with AC/DC and Metallica playing at the Partizan Stadium in recent years. Question is... are Spurs on the Highway to Hell this evening? *HIDES*
Besiktas v Asteras Tripolis | Partizan v Tottenham (both 18:00)
Another day, another manager gone. Today sees Fulham FINALLY relieve Felix Magath of his duties after picking up a measly one point from seven Championship fixtures. This is the same Fulham that reached the final of the 2010 Europa League and came close to forcing Atletico Madrid to penalties. Downfall.
Torino are back in the big(ish) time for the first time in 12 seasons. The Italian club finished seventh in Serie A last season and will hope to summon the spirit of 1992 upon their return. They reached the final of the competition that year, losing out over two legs to an Ajax team featuring Frank de Boer and managed by Louis van Gaal. Whatever happened to those guys?
Club Brugge v Torino | Copenhagen v Helskinki (both 18:00)
The big team news from Austria sees Celtic manager Ronny Deila hand a debut to Mubarak Wakaso. The Ghanaian winger was part of his country’s World Cup squad and has been given a chance to impress this evening after joining on loan from Rubin Kazan. Anthony Stokes only makes the bench.
Salzburg: Gulasci, Schwegler, Ramalho, Hinteregger, Ulmer, Kampl, Leitgeb, Ilsanker, Sabitzer, Soriano, Alan. Subs: Walke, Schmitz, P. Ankersen, Keita, Lazaro, Bruno, Quadchner.
Celtic: Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, Van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Johansen; McGregor, Commons, Wakaso; Scepovic. Subs: Zaluska, Kayal, O’Connell, Bitton, Tonev, Berget, Stokes.
Yikes. If Michel Vorm can’t start this game, when will he? Mauricio Pochettino hands a debut to Federico Fazio in defence and Benjamin Stambouli starts for the first time. There’s no Danny Rose for Spurs but Pochettino insists his omission is nothing to do with the racist abuse he suffered the last time he played in the stadium with England Under-21s.
Partizan: Lukac, Volkov, Vulicevic, Stankovic, Cirkovic, B.Ilic, Grbic, Drincic, S.Ilic, Pantic, Lazovic. Subs: Kljajic, Petrovic, Ninkovic, A. Zivkovic, Markovic, Luka, Fofana.
Tottenham: Lloris; Naughton, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies; Bentaleb, Stambouli; Lennon, Paulinho, Townsend; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Chiriches, Dier, Capoue, Eriksen, Lamela, Soldado.
To attempt to make things at least a little bit interesting for those who don’t care for massive fixture lists, these previews will be full of crazy trivia that I bet you won’t find anywhere else on the net in a place that’s not called Wikipedia.
For instance, did you know Apollon Limassol played host to a number of Under-16 European Championship matches back in 1992? Nope, me neither. Future stars such as Francesco Totti and Clarence Seedorf featured. Triviatastic.
Apollon Limassol v FC Zurich | B. Monchengladbach v Villarreal (both 18:00)
We’ll run through all the fixtures taking place this evening shortly, but our main focus will be on the games involving the two UK clubs and the one UK-but-maybe-not-for-much-longer club. Political banter! You love it really. It’s Partizan v Tottenham and Salzburg v Celtic at 18:00 BST before Everton host Wolfsburg at 20:00 BST.
Partizan v Tottenham | Salzburg v Celtic | Everton v Wolfsburg