LONDON — Several teams have already ensured their passage into the next round of the Europa League, so now first place in the group is the target.
Here are five things to know about the penultimate round of the group stage in the Europa League:
Spanish clubs continue to prosper in Europe even when stumbling domestically. Valencia, Sevilla and Real Betis are showing that in the Europa League.
With Atletico Madrid and Barcelona through to the knockout stages of the Champions League, Spain's continental pedigree continues to impress.
And European action couldn't have come sooner for Valencia or Betis.
Valencia coach Miroslav Djukic has been under pressure all season with the team's 11th-place Spanish league start, with nothing but a victory against Osasuna this weekend securing the Serbian coach's job. Valencia has already secured a spot in the next round heading to Group A opponent Swansea, so it may experiment some with midfielder Ever Banega questionable to play.
Betis, meanwhile, is at the top of Group I and on the verge of a spot in the knockout stages heading to Lyon.
The away game comes after losing to Sevilla 4-0.
Sevilla, meanwhile, is a more respectable eighth in Spain and at the top of Group H ahead of its home game against Portuguese opponent Estoril.
Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic takes his team to face Legia Warsaw amid speculation in Italy that he will be the next coach of Switzerland's national team. Petkovic is among the candidates to succeed Ottmar Hitzfeld when the veteran coach steps down after the World Cup.
The Swiss Football Association wants to make an early appointment after being rejected by its top target, Marcel Koller, who chose to extend his contract with Austria.
Petkovic, though born in Sarajevo, worked in Switzerland for almost 25 years as player and coach before moving to a Turkish club in 2011, and to Lazio one year later. Lazio won the Italian Cup and reached the Europa League quarterfinals in his first season, and is poised to advance from the group stage again.
Victory in Poland will clinch a place in the last 32.
Lazio can clinch qualification with a game to spare if it inflicts a fifth straight defeat on Legia Warsaw. The Italian side will also qualify if Apollon Limassol fails to win at Group J leader Trabzonspor.
And Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti will be in the spotlight, following a miserable start to the season after slowly rebuilding his career following a disastrous World Cup performance for Italy in 2010.
Marchetti and Lazio earned a reputation for their invincibility last season. The goalkeeper hadn't conceded for 516 minutes before Marco Sau's strike ended that run at the start of the year.
That form earned the 30-year-old Marchetti a recall to the Italy squad, three years after he let in four goals from five shots on target in matches against New Zealand and Slovakia in South Africa.
It is a different story this season. Marchetti has conceded 24 goals in all competitions, including a 4-0 rout by Juventus in the Italian Super Cup — a game that was billed as a matchup between current and future Italy goalkeepers.
He was also at fault for Armenia's second goal in a 2-2 draw last month after being handed a rare international start, with Italy already qualified for the World Cup.
RESPITE IN EUROPE
Eintracht Frankfurt needs a point in Bordeaux to advance to the knockout stage. Frankfurt is coming off a 4-2 loss in Tel Aviv, its first in the group after three straight wins. But Frankfurt has scored at least two goals in each of its away games.
In the Bundesliga, however, Frankfurt is suffering. The team is winless in eight consecutive games and is hovering above the relegation zone.
The knockout round could feature a second-tier team: FA Cup holder Wigan. Rubin Kazan has already guaranteed a place in the last 32. If the Russian side avoids defeat against Maribor, it will capture first place in Group D, and Wigan will secure second place by beating Zulte Waregem.
"We're the only second-tier team operating in the Europa League and we have a fantastic chance with two games to go to qualify for the knockout stages, which would be an incredible achievement," Wigan manager Owen Coyle said.