The final round of group fixtures awaits the Bundesliga’s Europa League participants this week after all three enjoyed domestic wins at the weekend. Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04, and FC Augsburg all play on Thursday, and the action is previewed here.
Thursday, December 10
Borussia Dortmund v PAOK
Group C has come down to a final-day showdown with BVB in a tight race with Russian side Krasnodar for top spot in the group. Thomas Tuchel’s Schwarzgelben face PAOK at the Signal Iduna Park expecting a win and hoping that minnows Qäbälä can take points from Krasnodar, who have the edge over Dortmund by head-to-head record.
The Bundesliga side were held to a 1-1 draw in Salonika back on match day 2 with a second-half strike from Gonzalo Castro earning them a share of the spoils. The home side will be boosted by the late win they achieved at the weekend over Wolfsburg as well as by the fact that former Bayer Leverkusen striker Dimitar Berbatov looks set to sit this one out with a calf injury.
Asteras v Schalke
The Königsblauen’s Greek opponents may already be out of this season’s Europa League, but could still have a say in who finishes top of group. Schalke are currently in pole position with a two-point lead over Sparta Prague, so a point should be enough to secure first place.
A Franco Di Santo hat-trick helped die Knappen cruise to a comfortable 4-0 win in the reverse fixture at the Veltins Arena. Andre Breitenreiter’s side enjoyed a 3-1 win over Hannover last Friday and have had a little longer to recover.
On the milestone front, striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is just one goal away from scoring his 50th in European competition.
Partizan v Augsburg
Last season’s surprise Bundesliga qualifiers FC Augsburg have it all to do if they are to qualify from group L as runners-up to Athletic Bilbao. They need to beat Partizan in Belgrade by a margin of two goals or more, as long as it’s not 2-0. A tough ask in anyone’s book.
Augsburg were unlucky last time out against Bilbao when two late goals from Aritz Aduriz snatched victory away from Markus Weinzierl’s side. That performance and the fact that they have not lost in the Bundesliga in three games will give the Függerstadter confidence ahead of their trip to Serbia.
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