PREVIEW: EUROPA LEAGUE ACTION
MICHAEL HADLEY - Thursday, October 4, 2012
The second round of the Europa League group stage will take place with a handful of Americans taking up arms for their squads around the continent.

Molde FK - VfB Stuttgart

After missing significant time due to injuries so far this season, Josh Gatt is slated to return for Molde in Norway as they host Stuttgart of Germany in Group E play

Talk around Norway reveals he was kept out of play over the weekend to allow for a complete recovery in time for the Europa League.

Molde lost their first match of the group stage 2-1 to Copenhagen when Andreas Cornelius scored the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, while Stuttgart drew 2-2 with Steaua at home in their opening match.

Molde will have revenge on their mind, as Stuttgart knocked them out of Europa League qualifying when they met two years ago, and with the Germans failing to impress so far in domestic league play, they will like their chances.

Stuttgart are without defender Tim Hoogland, midfielder Daniel Didavi and forward Shinji Okazaki, all due to injury. Molde are not reporting any absences.

Panathinaikos FC - Tottenham Hotspur

Fresh off their first Premier League victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford, Tottenham Hotspur with American Clint Dempsey will travel to Athens to battle Panathinaikos of Greece in Group J action.

Dempsey has already begun to make his impact felt for the North London club, scoring the winner against the Red Devils over the weekend.

Tottenham drew 0-0 with Lazio in their opener, with both Americans on the team starting. Brad Freidel went the full 90 minutes in goal, while Dempsey went 76 in early action with his new squad.

Friedel has, however, been left in London for the game with an eye towards their upcoming Premier League game over the weekend, allowing disgruntled French keeper Hugo Lloris the chance to see some minutes.

In addition to Friedel, Emmanuel Adebayor was also left behind as he recovers from an injury.

Panathinaikos lost 3-0 to Maribor in both team's first match of the group stage. They are without former team captain Kostas Katsouranis, who was given a six-match suspension for earlier insulting a referee, and has been relieved of his duties by the team.

They will also be without defender Nikos Spyropoulos, who is suspended for the game after picking up two yellows in their group opener.

Rosenborg FC - Bayer 04 Leverkusen

In the American-laden Group K, Mix Diskerud and Rosenborg will host Leverkusen as they try to solidify their lead in the group.

Diskerud went nearly the full game against Terrence Boyd in Rosenborg's 2-1 opening victory, with goalkeeper Daniel Orlund making a penalty save to preserve the victory.

Leverkuksen backup keeper David Yelldell is unlikely to see the field, as he has lost his spot as the team's backup keeper.

Leverkusen drew 0-0 with Metalist in their opening group game two weeks ago, with Yelldell not appearing in the 18 for the German club.

Neither team is currently reporting any absences.

FC Metalist - Rapid Vienna

Also in Group K, Terrence Boyd's Rapid Vienna will travel to Ukraine to take on Metalist, looking to climb out of their last-place position.

The streaky Boyd was unable to score in the 2-1 loss to Diskerud's Rosenborg, playing all 90 minutes.

Boyd's strike partner Deni Alar's penalty was saved in the 70th minute, leaving the team on zero points and in the group K cellar.

Since the loss, Rapid have gone 3-0-0, playing some of their best soccer after the defeat, sitting atop the Austrian Bundesliga table.

Missing still from Rapid's match day squad is midfielder Christopher Drazan, still suffering the ill effects of a leg injury sustained early in the season.

Metalist drew 0-0 at Leverkusen two weeks ago in their opener, and will be hoping to avoid any embarrassment in front of the home crowd on Thursday evening.

Hannover 96 - Levante

Steve Cherundolo will captain Hannover in Group L as they host Europa League newcomers Levante at the AWD-Arena.

Hannover began the group stages with a 2-2 draw thanks to an own goal from FC Twente's captain Peter Wisgerhof on a Hannover free kick.

Cherundolo went the full 90 on the right side of the defense as usual, starting nearly every game for Hannover over the last decade.

Levante won their first ever Europa League match in the opener, with a 1-0 victory over Helsingborg and Alejando Bedoya.

For Hannover, the most significant absence is Leon Andreasen, who recently tore his ACL and will be out for the long-haul.

The Spaniards are not reporting any absences to their traveling squad.

Helsingborgs IF - FC Twente

Ale Bedoya and Helsingborg will host FC Twente of Dutch fame in an attempt to regain ground in Group L.

The Swedish team lost 1-0 to Levante in their first match of the current Europa League, while Twente drew in their ninth match since they joined the competition on July 5th in the first qualifying round.

Bedoya went 90 minutes for Helsingborgs at midfield, picking up a yellow card in his time.

Of late, Ale has been a major part of the rekindling of the Helsingborg attack, not showing up on the goal sheet but frequently leading the build up for the Swedish team.

Neither team is reporting any absences.

Notes

Hapoel Kiryat Shmona and goalkeeper Bryan Gerzicich will take on Lyon, with Gerzizich unlikely to play.