Madrid, March 8 (IANS) Three Spanish sides are in Europa League action on Thursday night, with Betis, Real Sociedad and Sevilla all back on the European stage.
Sevilla are the only side playing at home and the six-times winners of the tournament (and its predecessor UEFA Cup) take on Fenerbahce.
The game comes with Sevilla fourth from bottom of La Liga and once again in crisis, with coach Jorge Sampaoli under increasing pressure after a 3-2 home defeat to Osasuna and last Saturday’s 6-1 thrashing away to Atletico Madrid, a Xinhua report said.
Sampaoli needs a good result, but with his side slipping back towards the relegation zone, he also has to try and keep some players fresh for Sunday’s key league match at home to Almeria.
The good news is that defensive midfielder Fernando will be able to play, although the Brazilian is still serving a domestic ban.
Sevilla’s local rivals Betis visit Manchester United in what promises to be the tie of the round.
Manchester United saw some of the gloss of their win over Barcelona in the last round taken away by their incredible 7-0 defeat to Liverpool last Sunday. That result has rocked the English club, who can be expected to react strongly in front of their home fans.
Betis are without Nabil Fekir, but hope to have Sergio Canales available after he missed their 0-0 draw at home to Real Madrid last weekend due to injury.
Real Sociedad travel to face Roma in the middle of a ‘mini-crisis’ which tends to affect them at this time of the season. The side from San Sebastian have dropped to fourth in La Liga after a run that has seen them take just six points from their last six matches.
Meanwhile they have fallen at the first knockout stage of the Europa League for the last three seasons and coach Imanol Alguacil needs to see his forwards return to their best form to avoid another disappointment.