LONDON -- Sinisa Mihajlovic and Dejan
Stankovic will be asked to put sentiment to one side against Red
Star Belgrade in the UEFA Cup on Thursday while Lazio seeks to
maintain Italy's return to prominence in European competition.
The Yugoslavia internationals both began their careers with
former European champions Red Star and retain an affection for
the club which nurtured their development.
But Lazio, hoping to follow the examples set by resurgent AC
Milan, Juventus, Roma and Inter Milan in the Champions League,
requires a solid aggregate lead from the second round, first-leg
match at the Olympic stadium
Fellow Serie A club Parma, twice former UEFA Cup champions,
hosts Wisla Krakow in its second-round, first-leg tie on a
night of 21 UEFA Cup second-round ties.
Spanish sides Celta Vigo and Alaves have home first-leg
matches against Viking Stavanger and Besiktas respectively, and
Parkhead stages a clash between Scottish champions Celtic and
England's Blackburn Rovers dubbed the 'Battle of Britain'.
Lazio's Mihajlovic helped Red Star to its European Cup
triumph of 1991, while in-form midfielder Stankovic graduated to
Rome from the famous Yugoslav club in 1998.
But Stankovic, who scored in Sunday's 2-2 derby draw with AS
Roma, says he would rather not have to try to put one over his
"It is the club where I grew up and where I began my career
as a footballer," he said.
"If (coach Roberto) Mancini says I don't have to play I will
be happy. But if I am on the field I will behave as a
Red Star has already claimed one Serie A scalp this season
having beaten Chievo in the previous round.
Parma is likely to be without injured Brazilian striker
Adriano and Slovak defender Vratislav Gresko for its match
against Poland's Wisla.
An injury-affected Celta Vigo will be hoping that the return
of leading striker Catanha will sharpen the club's attack when it
hosts Norwegian side Viking, conquerors of Chelsea in the last
round, at the Balaidos stadium.
The Galicians will be missing influential Russian playmaker
Alexander Mostovoi and Argentine international winger Gustavo
Brazilian midfielder Vagner added to coach Miguel Angel
Lotina's injury worries when he sustained a groin injury in
training on Tuesday, and he faces a late fitness test.
But the return of Catanha should be some compensation for
Lotina, whose side has failed to score in the striker's two-game
Turkey's Fenerbahce faces Greek side Panathinaikos determined
to ensure the match reflects well on the two country's joint bid
to host Euro 2008.
Coach Werner Lorant has no serious injury worries, although
Argentine midfielder Ariel Ortega had treatment on Tuesday for
what doctors said was a minor thigh strain.
Lorant is under pressure to achieve European success after a
run of poor results in the league and his team's failure to win
a place in the Champions League.
Blackburn coach Graeme Souness, a former player and manager
with Celtic's bitter rivals Rangers, says the club's first leg trip
to Glasgow is Rovers' biggest test under his stewardship.
"This is going to be a unique atmosphere for my players and
I expect to learn a lot about them over the next 48 hours," he
told reporters on Wednesday.
Blackburn is also boosted by the return from injury of
striker Andy Cole and winger Damien Duff.
English premier league Fulham faces Dinamo Zagreb, whose fans
-- known as the "Bad Blue Boys" -- have been urged by club
officials not to indulge in racist chanting.
The London club is hoping to avoid the abuse some of its
players suffered during the first round tie against another
Croatian club, Hajduk Split. Hajduk was subsequently fined by
UEFA which has stepped up its drive against racism.
Dinamo is at full strength and high on confidence after the
good form of strikers Ivica Olic and Bosko Balaban in the 4-1
domestic league win over Cibalia at the weekend.
"We needed time to get back into shape ... the victory has
heralded our potential and shown that we can achieve our aim on
Thursday," said coach Miroslav Blazevic.
Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv is confident of keeping Leeds
United striker Mark Viduka quiet when they meet at Elland Road
in the first leg.
"I played against Viduka three seasons ago when we played
Celtic in the UEFA Cup," Hapoel captain Shimon Gershon told the
"He didn't score then and I hope he will not score again."