LONDON (AP) — Both Athletic Bilbao and Hapoel Kiryat Shmona can be eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday without even playing.
Their match in Haifa was canceled Wednesday because of the fighting in Israel, leaving Sparta Prague with the chance to advance with a win or a draw against already-qualified Lyon in Group I. "Due to the circumstances currently prevailing in Israel, the match was not to go ahead," Athletic spokesman Xavier Fernandez said Wednesday. "As a consequence, we have not flown out there."
Athletic have only one point from four games in the group, while Kiryat Shmona is slightly better with two. In another Spanish-Israeli match, Atletico Madrid host Hapoel Tel-Aviv at the Vicente Calderon Stadium knowing a win against the already-eliminated Israeli side will guarantee qualification from Group B.
A win will also maintain a perfect record for the Spanish team, and Atletico striker Falcao will be hoping to score to avoid a run of four games without a goal. Hapoel has only one point from its four games.
Level on points with Atletico is Viktoria Plzen. The Czech team will guarantee qualification if it is victorious at Academica. The Portuguese club must win to have any realistic chance of progressing from the group.
Group A is proving to be one of the most interesting with the four teams separated by only three points. Anzhi Makhachkala is leading the way with seven points, and plays last-place Udinese. Anzhi has won six of its seven points at home, and has yet to concede in Ukraine, leaving Udinese, which drew at home against Parma on Sunday, with a difficult game.
Liverpool hosts Swiss side Young Boys. Both teams have six points, and with two games left a win could be crucial for both team's qualification chances. Serie A team Lazio host Premier League side Tottenham in another key game to help decide who will qualify from Group J. Lazio are two points ahead of Tottenham, and a win will guarantee qualification. Tottenham has six points and could go ahead of Lazio if beats the Italian team at the Stadio Olimpico.
Close behind Tottenham is Maribor. If Tottenham loses, and Maribor takes three points from Panathinaikos, the Slovenian club will push ahead of the north Londoners. Anything less than a win will make it extremely difficult for the Greek club, which is in last place.
Napoli let a two-goal lead slip into a disappointing draw against AC Milan in Serie A and will be hoping to bounce back at Swedish club AIK in Group F. Napoli, which is second in the group, leads AIK by two points.
Edinson Cavani, who came in fifth in the AP Global Football 10 rankings last week, scored all four goals in Napoli's 4-2 victory over Dnipro two weeks ago. "It was a really wonderful night," Cavani said. "I always look to give my maximum but every game is different and we will certainly have to fight in Sweden."
Also in Group F, last-place PSV Eindhoven hosts group leader Dnipro. A win for Dnipro guarantees qualification, but if PSV wins and Napoli draws, the Dutch club would go second on goal difference. Newcastle leads Group D and hosts Maritimo, knowing a win will send the northern English team through with a game in hand. Bordeaux, in second place, can also guarantee qualification with a win at FC Bruges.
Inter Milan travels to Rubin Kazan for the big match in Group H. Both teams have 10 points and have already qualified.