DAVID SMITH - Thursday, August 1, 2013
Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Tel-Aviv will travel to Romania while Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna head south to Greece as the Europa League third qualifying round kicks off.
Pandurii Târgu Jiu - Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Bryan Gerzicich should once again be in Hapoel Tel-Aviv's midfield on Thursday night as they try to continue their European adventure in Romania at Pandurii Târgu Jiu.
Gerzicich and his new teammates had little problem to surge past their Bulgarian second-round opponents Beroe, and will hope to have a pair of similar outings when they face their vanquished opponents' northern neighbors Pandurii.
The Romanians were similarly strong in their second-round showdown with Levadia Tallinn winning 4-0 on aggregate.
They could have a slight edge over their Israeli counterparts having already played two games in domestic league action prior to Thursday's game.
Their most recent outing came on Monday evening, as they gave up a late equalizer to Petrolul Ploiesti, and they will certainly be looking to put on a show for the home crowd in what is their inaugural European campaign.
Thursday's game has been moved from Târgu Jiu roughly four hours north to the city of Cluj-Napoca, where the teams will play in the spacious Cluj Arena.
Neither team is currently reporting any absences.
Asteras Tripolis - Rapid Vienna
After netting a pair of goals in last weekend's league action, Terrence Boyd will try to continue his hot streak on Thursday evening when Rapid Vienna take on Greek team Asteras Tripolis.
Boyd saw his domestic season take off in last Saturday's home game against SC Wiener Neustadt, scoring two second-half goals in the 4-0 blowout win.
The game followed Rapid's 2-2 opening-day draw at Wolfsberger AC, and Boyd's two-goal performance likely solidified the American's place in the team's starting lineup.
The Austrians are looking to take one step closer to what would be their fourth Europa League group stage appearance in five seasons. Last season was largely unsuccessful, with the team finishing last place in their group, however they will like their chances against a Greek team that is still in the middle of their pre-season.
Asteras are playing in their second-ever European campaign, with the first coming last season when they were knocked out at this point of the competition.
Rapid defender Harald Pichler will miss the game due to a red card suspension carried over from last season and forward Dominik Starkl will sit due to injury.
Asteras are not reporting any absences.
Charlie Davies has been named in the Randers squad that will face off against visitors Rubin Kazan on Thursday afternoon.