Europa League Preview: Match day 4

It’s the fourth matchday in the UEFA Europa League. Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 could be on their way to the next round, while Augsburg desperately need a win.

Dortmund face FK Qäbälä at home in Group C. Die Borussen are leading the way with seven points and beat Qabala on the road 1-3, with a hat-trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. So far, Dortmund have not kept a clean sheet in the tournament, conceding one goal in each game. But according to Squawka stats, they’ve created 46 chances and have dominated possession with an average of 63 per cent.

Against Qäbälä, Dortmund should have no problem winning again. The Azerbaijani side sit fourth in the group with just one point from three games and Dortmund haven’t lost a European game under Thomas Tuchel. They will be without Erik Durm and Nuri Sahin due to knee problems, but that shouldn’t affect the club from qualifying for the next round. If Borussia beats Qäbälä and Krasnodar beats PAOK, the German side goes through.

(Watch Aubameyang’s hat trick from last round’s match against Qäbälä.)

Schalke 04 find themselves in somewhat similar situation as their archrivals. Die Königsblauen lead Group K with seven points from three matches. They have scored nine goals so far, with Franco Di Santo scoring four of them. Only Napoli have scored more with 11. Schalke travels to Prague for an encounter with Sparta Praha, who sit second with five points.

The Czech side came into Gelsenkirchen well prepared and left with a 2-2 draw. Sparta went up 1-2, before Leroy Sané netted the equaliser in de 73th minute. Schalke’s players must present themselves well Thursday if they want to be successful, as the home team is undefeated in nine of its last 10 matches in Europa League play. If Schalke take the three points and APOEL doesn’t win at Asteras, they are on the brink of qualifying for the next round.

It’s a completely different story for Augsburg. They are ranked fourth in Group L but picked up a huge 0-1 win at AZ Alkmaar, their first ever in European competition. Piotr Trochowski scored the lone goal with a tremendous free kick just before the half time whistle. Marwin Hitz played an awesome game, denying the Dutch side a goal on eight occasions.

Here’s Trochowski’s free kick goal against AZ Alkmaar.

Augsburg now hosts AZ after conceding three goals, including a late equaliser against Mainz 05 last Saturday, a match in which FCA dominated early but found themselves behind 0-2. They will have to improve their performance at the back, as they also conceded five against Dortmund and are currently on six conceded goals in Europa League action. Only five teams have conceded more so far. Right now their goal difference is at -3 and the team stands three points behind Athletic Bilbao and Partizan Belgrade in 1st and 2nd. If Augsburg want to keep their qualifying chances alive, they must take the three points again.

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Vincent van Genechten

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