DAVID SMITH - Thursday, October 21, 2010
Jozy Altidore and Villarreal will look to take care of business at home against Greek team PAOK while Sacha Kljestan will hope to see some time on the field for Anderlecht when they host AEK Athens.
RSC Anderlecht - AEK Athens
Sacha Kljestan will be hopeful of ending his drought of playing time on Thursday night as Anderlecht try to pull out of the Group G basement against visiting AEK Athens.
Anderlecht have quickly seen their European campaign turn sour, looking entirely inept in their first two Group G losses to leaders Zenit and Croatian team Hajduk Split.
They face AEK on Thursday knowing very well that a third straight loss would likely be a death sentence to their hopes of reaching next year's knockout round, and will be looking to give themselves a lifeline in the form of a vital win at home.
In addition to the poor showing in Europe, their league campaign has thus far been a lackluster one, with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Standard Liege two weeks ago and the followup 1-0 shut-out loss to Cercle Brugge almost certainly weighing heavily on their minds.
Anderlecht coach Ariël Jacobs will be pleased to have Jan Polak back in the lineup after the midfielder missed the weekend's loss with a rib injury, however his return will likely mean Kljestan's best hopes of taking the field for the first time in over two months rest with second-half substitute action.
Otherwise, Jacobs will be without a number of other midfielders, as Ziguy Badibanga is out with a shin bruise, Cristophe Diandy with a knee injury, Jonathan Legear with a strained hamstring and Lukas Marecek with an ankle problem.
AEK will also have several players missing; defender Sanel Jahić will miss several weeks with a leg injury, as will forward Nikos Liberopoulos and defender Christos Patsatzoglou.
Villarreal CF - PAOK Thessaloniki
Jozy Altidore is likely to feature for the Yellow Submarine on Thursday when they battle Greek team PAOK Thessaloniki in El Madrigal for a shot at the group lead.
Villarreal bounced back from their opening group loss to Zagreb, posting a solid 2-1 win over Belgian team Club Brugge to stay in the thick of what is looking to be a closely contested group.
They currently trail first-place PAOK by just one point, and could very well jump into the lead, pending the outcome of Brugge's visit to Zagreb, should they come out victorious at home.
Should they continue their spectacular play so far this season in La Liga where they are currently second place behind only Real Madrid, they will have no problems to do away with the struggling Greek team which has conversely won just once in six league attempts.
Altidore has seen little action in league play, but has been a consistent choice of head coach Juan Carlos Garrido in the Europa League, last time getting the start alongside Giuseppe Rossi.
Villarreal continue to be without midfielder Marcus Senna, however otherwise have a full lineup available for the game.
Freddy Adu is not a part of Aris' Europa League squad and will play no part when they host Polish team Lech Poznan.