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Liverpool, Spurs target Europa knockout berths

Liverpool and Spurs cautiously target Europa progress

Premier League clubs Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur can both reach the knock-out phase of the Europa League Thursday but are also keeping an eye on domestic matters.

Striker Daniel Sturridge is set to play a part for Liverpool as they welcome Bordeaux to Anfield in Group B knowing victory would put them through to the next stage.

Sturridge returned from injury for the weekend win at Manchester City but was an unused substitute.

Captain James Milner acknowledged their destiny was in their own hands.

"We just want to take this wave of confidence from the City game and make sure we keep it going and get a good home win," he said. "It'll be important going into the weekend against Swansea."

Liverpool are second in the group on six points, behind leaders Sion (eight) who can also qualify with a win at Rubin Kazan. Bordeuax are third on three.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino may rotate his players for their trip to take on Qarabag in Azerbaijan in Group J.

With a league clash against champions Chelsea to come at the weekend, Tottenham can qualify with a win but must conserve energy at the same time.

"(We) need to fly nearly six hours, and then there is the decision about whether to come straight back or stay," the Argentine said.

"It's very difficult because both decisions are bad."

Monaco will secure the other qualifying place from the group with a win at home to Anderlecht.

Spaniards Villarreal are determined to beat Rapid Vienna in the and thus snatch top spot in Group E from the Austrians.

The Yellow are currently three points behind Rapid and need a two-goal win or a 1-0 victory to go top on the head-to-head results system, given that they lost 2-1 in Vienna.

"Our objective is to finish top of the group, so winning is essential Thursday," Villarreal striker Roberto Soldado said.

"They are difficult opponents, they showed that in our clash in Vienna."

Meanwhile in Group L, leaders Athletic Bilbao will visit third-placed Augsburg.

Bilbao are three points above Partizan Belgrade and Augsburg, so a win in Germany would guarantee the Basques a top-spot finish given they have the better head-to-head results with Partizan. A draw in Augsburg will also secure a place in the next round.

"We have done well in the group and now we have to finish the job off. It is never easy to go to Germany, we know that full well," Bilbao defender Eneko Boveda said.

Augsburg boosted their dismal Bundesliga campaign with a great win at VfB Stuttgart last weekend and could be returning to the form of last season.

Their compatriots Schalke top Group K on eight points and can progress with a home win over bottom club Apoel.

"We mustn't underestimate Apoel," Sascha Riether told the club homepage. "We know Nikosia from the game at their place, and we know how we have to set up as a team. Our aim is to win, no question."

Sparta Prague and Asteras Tripolis meet in the other clash which is likely to be decisive in determining the second spot as the Czechs will go through with a win unless Apoel also triumph in Germany.

Schalke's rivals Borussia Dortmund are already through ahead of their trip to Krasnodar in Group C with the Russians able to join them in the next round with a win.

Club Brugge chase qualification as they welcome Group D winners Napoli in a game to be played behind closed doors due to safety measures enforced in Belgium after the terror attacks in Paris.

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri plans to rest Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol, Jorginho and Serie A top scorer Gonzalo Higuain.

A draw against Dnipro is enough for Lazio to qualify from Group G while in Group I, coach Paulo Sosa leads Fiorentina against his former team Basel with either team able to secure progress. The Swiss top the group on nine points, with La Viola second on six as Poznan and Belenenses clash with four points each.

Fenerbache, Midtjylland, Braga, Slovan Liberec, St Etienne, Lokomotiv Moscow and Besiktas can also reach the knock-out phase.

Tags: liverpool | Tottenham Hotspur | UEFA Europa League

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