Three Bundesliga clubs will be involved in Europa League matches this week. On Wednesday, VfB Stuttgart travel to Switzerland in their rematch with Young Boys, while Bayer Leverkusen will be in Norway to take on Rosenborg BK. On Thursday, Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund will host Ukrainian side Karpaty Lviv at Signal Iduna Park. All three matches will be available for viewing in the U.S. on the DirecTV UEFA stations beginning with the Stuttgart match at 1:00pm ET and the Leverkusen contest beginning at 3:00 pm ET Wednesday. The Stuttgart match will also be shown on GolTV Wednesday at 1:00 pm ET. Thursday’s Dortmund replay with Lviv will be shown at 1:00pm ET on the DirecTV mix.
Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen both lead their respective groups. Stuttgart have been perfect in four Europa League matches, sweeping Group H rivals Young Boys, Getafe and Odense, scoring nine goals while only allowing one. They defeated Young Boys 3-0 in their September matchup at Mercedes-Benz Arena. Stuttgart has found the Europa League much more to their liking this season than the Bundesliga, where they now languish in the relegation zone despite an earlier coaching change that saw Jens Keller take over the team. After their 6-0 romp over Werder Bremen November 7, Die Schwaben allowed FC Kaiserslautern to overcome a two goal deficit to split the points and then dropped their last two matches to FC Koln and Hamburg. Cacau and Pavel Pogrebnyak lead Stuttgart with five goals each in Bundesliga action.
Young Boys have a relatively healthy squad for the matchup in Bern. Coach Vladimir Petkovic will have David Degen available, who’s twin brother Phillip plays for Stuttgart. Young Boys currently hold the fourth spot in the Swiss Super League, five points behind co-leaders Lucerne and FC Basel. Young Boys are unbeaten in their last five Super League matches since losing to Lucerne on October 3. Moreno Costanzo and Emmanuel Mayuka share the club lead with four goals each.
Bayer Leverkusen haven’t been as dominant in Europa League action as Stuttgart, but nonetheless lead Group B with eight points on two wins and two draws, one point ahead of Atletico Madrid. Jupp Heynckes’ Werkself spanked Rosenborg 4-0 in September on the strength of Patrick Helmes’ hat trick in Trondheim. Unlike Stuttgart, Leverkusen are playing well in the Bundesliga, quietly holding the third berth in the table while Dortmund and Mainz get most of the media attention. With Helmes and Simon Rolfes limited to six and five league games each, Bayer Leverkusen are paced in scoring by Arturo Vidal with six goals. Electrifying Sidney Sam has added five goals in only nine matches, and his long-distance shooting accuracy is amazing.
Rosenborg’s only win in its four Europa League group matches was a 2-1 defeat of Aris Thessalonika on September 30 in Trondheim. Although the Norwegian club has struggled in Europe, they again won the Tippeligaen on October 24, 2010 when they defeated Tromso IL. It was their 22nd Norwegian club title.
Oddly enough, Borussia Dortmund, who have been so dominant in this season’s Bundesliga, have been mediocre in Europa League play. Their only victory in four tries was against Karpaty Lviv on the first matchday, when the Yellow and Blacks had to stage a furious rally with Lucas Barrios providing the equalizer and Mario Gotze the game-winner in the last three minutes of the away match. This time, Dortmund host Karpaty Lviv at Signal Iduna Park. With their historic show of form in the Bundesliga, Dortmund are currently as dominant as any team in Europe, and with victory a necessity for hopes of Europa advancement, I can’t see Jurgen Klopp and his players letting down. Dortmund trail Group J leaders Sevilla by four points, and runner-up PSG by three. Dortmund’s last Group J match is in Spain against Sevilla on December 15.
It would appear likely that all three Bundesliga clubs will claim positive results in this week’s Europa League matchups. Here’s hoping so.