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5 things to look out for in tonight's Europa League matches

Liverpool and Spurs can both clinch qualification with the Reds hosting Bordeaux at Anfield and Tottenham making the trip to Azerbaijan.

The Liverpool squad training at Melwood on Tuesday.
The Liverpool squad training at Melwood on Tuesday.
Image: Simon Cooper

Reds entertain French opposition

LIVERPOOL CAN CLINCH their place in the last 32 with victory over Bordeaux at Anfield tonight (8.05pm).

The Jurgen Klopp era at Liverpool is still in its infancy but the German’s arrival is already helping transform the Reds, who thumped erstwhile Premier League leaders Manchester City 4-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

“I would love to win a game like this at Anfield. That’s our next challenge,” Klopp said, having seen his side knock off champions Chelsea and City in successive away games.

Bordeaux are third in Group B, three points behind Liverpool, but their record in England makes for bleak reading with five defeats in five visits and no goals scored.

Spurs on the road ahead of Chelsea clash

The timing of Thursday’s trip to Azerbaijan is not ideal for Mauricio Pochettino’s side with the visit of Chelsea just three days later.

However, Tottenham can wrap up qualification for the knockout phase with a win against Group J rivals Qarabag (6pm), although the Azerbaijani champions are unbeaten at home in Europe this term.

Conversely, Spurs have struggled on their travels and are without a win in four European away games, but confidence is high after a 4-1 demolition of West Ham over the weekend which saw England striker Harry Kane net twice to continue his red-hot goalscoring form.

Hoops and Ajax both need points

Neither Celtic nor Ajax can afford a false step when they meet in Glasgow  (8.05pm) as both bid to overhaul Fenerbahce for second place in Group A. Successive defeats have left Celtic three points adrift of the Turks with Ajax just one point better off and a draw would see both sides eliminated if Fenerbahce beat already-qualified Molde.

Celtic have gone nine games in this competition without a win — three short of the record — and defender Dedryck Boyata knows there’s no more margin for error.

“It’s a really important game. Our last two games in (Europe) were disappointing…we didn’t manage to be as good as we usually are. (Now) we need to be at our best.”

Basel can book last-32 spot

Portugal Soccer Europe League Fiorentina boss Paulo Sousa. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Swiss champions Basel can claim their place in the next round by completing the double over Fiorentina and former coach Paulo Sousa at St Jakob-Park (6pm).

Meanwhile La Viola can do likewise with a win combined with a draw between Belenenses and Lech Poznan. The Italians relinquished top spot in Serie A over the weekend after a 2-2 draw at home to Empoli, having trailed 2-0 at half-time in Florence.

Sousa admitted selection errors after leaving out Nikola Kalinic and Josip Ilicic, with the former coming off the bench for the second half and scoring twice to salvage a point.

Time running out for Sporting Lisbon

Sporting are flying high atop the Portuguese league but their European adventure could end prematurely unless they beat Lokomotiv in Russia (6pm).

Jorge Jesus’ men are third in Group H with just four points after a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Albanians Skenderbeu last time out extended their winless away run in Europe to 17 matches.

Unbeaten Lokomotiv, who top the group with eight points, can nail down a last-32 spot with a victory, which would spell the end for Sporting if second-place Besiktas beat Skenderbeu in Turkey.

See a full list of tonight’s Europa League fixtures here

(C) AFP 2015

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