MERSEYSIDE – Liverpool host big-spending Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala at Anfield in their Europa League Group A clash tonight with the English Premier League side seeking to avoid making unwanted history.
A 3-2 defeat to Udinese in Merseyside on matchday two leaves Brendan Rodgers’ men staring at the possibility of consecutive home defeats in Europe for the first time in the club’s existence.
Anzhi, thanks to the financial backing from wealthy owner Suleyman Kerimov, have started to flex their muscles this season with Guus Hiddink guiding the Dagestan-based club to the top of the Russian Premier League.
Undefeated in eight European fixtures this season, they will pose a serious threat to a Liverpool side that only secured their first home league win of the campaign on Saturday.
Udinese, who ended Liverpool’s 13-game unbeaten home run on the continental stage, travel to Switzerland to face Group A doormats Young Boys.
The Group D leaders welcome Club Brugge to St James’ Park today and will aim to maintain their flawless record again Belgian opposition, having won on all six previous occasions.
Bordeaux meanwhile will hope to fare better on their travels as they make the trip to Portugal to face Maritimo.
Unlike predecessor Harry Redknapp whose disdain for the Europa League was well-documented, Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has set winning the trophy he won two years ago at Porto as one of the north Londoners’ ambitions for this season.
Spurs are looking for their first win after draws against Lazio and Panathinaikos and go to Maribor on the back of a painful 4-2 home defeat to league leaders Chelsea.
Table-topping Lazio play bottom side Panathinaikos in Group J’s other fixture.
Defending champions Atletico Madrid, Lyon and Dnipro enter the third round of fixtures as the only sides with maximum points thus far.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico extended their European winning streak to an unprecedented 15 matches with a 1-0 victory over Viktoria Plzen last time out. Next up for Los Rojiblancos is a home tie against Academica de Coimbra from neighbouring Portugal, a side that haven’t won a European match since 1969. -Reuters