DAVID SMITH - Thursday, September 30, 2010
Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan will both hope to see minutes for their respective teams as Villarreal and Anderlecht search for their first points of the Europa League group stage.
Villarreal CF - Club Brugge
Jozy Altidore will hope to be called upon as an attacking option off the bench for coach Juan Carlos Garrido on Thursday evening when Villarreal host Belgian team Club Brugge in Group D action.
A relatively weakened Yellow Submarine team put up a poor showing during their group opener two weeks ago in Croatia, and will hope to put the two-goal loss aside as they host last year's third-place Belgian finishers.
Altidore had a decent showing in the game in getting the start and playing the full 90 minutes, however he was unable to spark the faltering attack to any goals in the the shut-out loss.
Garrido is taking no chances this time around in naming a full-strength squad for the home encounter, and likely to field a similar lineup to the one that has led Villarreal to their impressive second-place La Liga standing after the first five games of their domestic season.
The team has been possibly the most impressive in Spain in recent weeks, racking up four straight wins following their week-one loss, and outscoring their opponents by a 10-3 margin in this span of time.
Should they stick to the same level of play on Thursday evening, they will have no problems doing away with their Belgian counterparts, who have won just four of their first nine league games and are already 12 points off the league lead.
Villarreal will have a full lineup ready to go for the encounter aside from midfielder Marcos Senna, who is suspended for picking up a pair of yellow cards in Croatia.
Brugge coach Adrie Koster will most notably be without keeper Stijn Stijnen who is still working his way back from a leg injury and defender, who is also trying to regain his fitness from a knee problem.
Hajduk Split - RSC Anderlecht
Sacha Kljestan will hope to take the field for Anderlecht for the first time in several weeks on Thursday when the team heads to coastal Croatian town of Split for the team's second Group G matchup.
Anderlecht were embarrassed at home in their group stage opener two weeks ago when Russian team Zenit came away with a 3-1 win that left little doubt as to who were the kings of the group.
Perhaps in an attempt to exorcise the demons of the disappointment, the Purple & White have gone on a tear in the league games since, sandwiching an uncharacteristic draw with a pair of huge shut-out wins over league rivals, most recently a 5-0 demolition of rivals KV Mechelen.
Even though Kljestan has seemingly become a forgotten man for head coach Ariël Jacobs, the team's push towards the top of the league standings - which currently has them four points behind Genk - could have him become a substitute option should Jacobs wish to pull any of his starters early with an eye on the weekend's visit to Liege.
Anderlecht will have several continued absences as Tom De Sutter, Kanu, Davy Schollen and Pier Barrios continue to recover from various injuries while Mbark Boussoufa is not yet ready to return from his ankle problem.
Split were also 3-1 losers in their first group game of the competition at AEK Athens, and have a full squad available for the game.
Freddy Adu is not a part of Aris' 25-man squad for the Europa League group stage and will not take part when the Thessaloniki-based team visits the still-undefeated Norwegian league leaders in Group B action.