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Europa League chance to maintain or change current form for Spanish clubs

English.news.cn   2012-10-03 19:12:46            

MADRID, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Three Spanish clubs in different situations in the Spanish BBVA Primera Liga play their respective group matches in the Europa League on Thursday night.

While Atletico Madrid hope to carry their domestic form into Europe, both Athletic Club Bilbao and Levante will hope a change of competition can lead to a change in their fortunes.

Reigning Europa League champions, Atletico Madrid, are at home to Viktoria Plzen and aiming for their 10th consecutive European win in the Vicente Calderon Stadium.

Coach Diego Simeone may make subtle changes to a side that is currently unbeaten in Spain and which could go top of the BBVA Primera Liga should results go their way over the weekend.

Radomal Falcao will return after injury, while Cata Diaz will move into the heart of the Atletico defense for a game in which the Spanish side are clear favorites.

Athletic Bilbao, who were last season's beaten finalists, travel to Prague in much different conditions. A poor start to the season sees Marcelo Bielsa's side third from bottom of the league table and this week's highlights have focused on Bielsa's discussion with striker Fernando Llorente, who he expelled from a training session on Monday.

Llorente has been included in the Athletic squad, as has Ander Herrera, who has needed less than a month to recover from a pelvic operation.

Levante meanwhile suffered a 4-0 defeat to Osasuna on Sunday, becoming the first side to lose to Osasuna all season. Coach Juan Ignacio knows the limitations of his squad for playing in two major competitions and appears to have concluded that maintaining status in Spain is more important.

Levante travel to play Hannover without midfielders, Jose Barkero, Papa Diop, defender David Navarro and striker Juanlu, preferring to reserve them for Sunday's city derby at home to Valencia.

Editor: Tang Danlu
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