Europa League Preview: Celtic facing crucial clash, Liverpool poised


Celtic are staring at elimination but captain Scott Brown fancies the Scottish champions' chances at home to Ajax as they look to stay alive in the Europa League.

Brown and his team-mates welcome Ajax to Parkhead on Thursday, with Celtic still searching for their first win in the competition this season.

Celtic have lost two matches and drawn as many to languish at the foot of Group A, three points behind Fenerbahce, who occupy the second and final qualification spot as they prepare to face leaders Molde on the road.

If Fenerbahce win, the Turkish side will be through, but Brown is upbeat heading into matchday five, pointing to Celtic's opening 2-2 draw at Ajax in September.

"Ajax have always produced good players and they have some in the current team," he said.

"We've played them quite often in recent years and I enjoyed that. Hopefully, I'll be able to enjoy this one as well.

"We did well in Amsterdam and we need to take the positives from that game.  I think we showed that we could hurt them. It was just a pity that Emilio Izaguirre was sent off over there and they came back to equalise, but these things happen in football and we need to bounce back.

"A clean sheet would be good, but, as long as we score more goals than they do, I don't really mind."

Liverpool are in a much better position as they prepare to welcome Group B rivals Bordeaux to Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp and Co. are a win away from the knockout stage after leaving Rubin Kazan with all three points last time out.

Klopp, however, is desperate to oversee a change of fortune on Merseyside.

Liverpool, who are likely to be without Philippe Coutinho due to a hamstring strain suffered in the 4-1 rout of Manchester City last week, have only won one of their past five home fixtures in all competitions.

Group leaders Sion can seal progression with victory at Rubin.

Tottenham and Monaco will qualify together if they beat Qarabag and Anderlecht respectively in Group J.

Napoli will be out to make it five wins from as many Group D games when they travel to third-placed Club Brugge.

Midtjylland - away to Legia Warsaw - are assured of second position if they win and Brugge fail to beat Napoli.

High-flying Borussia Dortmund and second-placed Krasnodar square off in Group C, with PAOK also in action at home to Qabala.

Group K leaders Schalke require victory to move through to the next round, while Sparta Prague - set to host Asteras Tripolis - will join them if APOEL fail to beat the Bundesliga side.

Lazio only need to avoid defeat against Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to advance from Group G.

Rosenborg will be eliminated if they are unable to beat Saint-Etienne.

Already-qualified Rapid Vienna travel to Villarreal in Group E, while winless Dinamo Minsk entertain Viktoria Plzen.

Paulo Sousa will face former club Basel when Fiorentina make the trip to Switzerland in a top-of-the-table clash in Group I.

Belenenses tackle Lech Poznan.

In Group H, Lokomotiv Moscow face Sporting CP and Skenderbeu Korce are away to Besiktas.

Group L leaders Athletic Bilbao play Augsburg away from home, while AZ Alkmaar welcome Partizan to AFAS Stadion.

Sporting Braga and Slovan Liberec face off in Group F, which also sees Marseille and Groningen in action.