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Liverpool, Feyenoord, Dortmund risk early exit
- UEFA Cup - Barcelona, Parma on easier pitch to move into next round

London: Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Feyenoord all risk an embarrassing Uefa Cup exit on Thursday after a frustrating start to their second round campaigns.

Dortmund, Champions League winners in 1997, had to come from two goals behind to scrape a 2-2 draw at home to Sochaux in the first leg three weeks ago and will be well aware of the danger of the away goal rule.

Liverpool have that rule on their side but the 1-1 draw in a quagmire at Steaua Bucharest clearly fell below expectations of the four-time European champions.

The threat of elimination is even more real, though, for Feyenoord, who won this competition in 2002 but slumped to a home 2-0 defeat by Czech outsiders Teplice in the first leg.

By contrast, big wins for Barcelona and Parma mean they should cruise into the third round, when the competition is joined by eight rejects from the Champions League group stage.

Valencia, who were held to a surprise 0-0 draw at home by Maccabi Haifa, must wait for a venue for their second leg after the original stadium at Izmir in Turkey was ruled out by Uefa following this month’s bomb attacks in Istanbul.

Israeli clubs are not allowed to play ties on home soil as part of an earlier tightening of security measures by the game’s ruling body in Europe.

Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer and his men were upbeat before their trip to France.

“We will not play into Sochaux’s cards once again,” Sammer told the club’s website, adding that Sochaux “fell apart after 70 minutes”.

“But we are capable of pressing the full 90 minutes,” he continued. “This is currently our biggest advantage. We are an unbelievably intact team from the physical point of view.”

The good news on the physical front for Liverpool is that England striker Michael Owen, who missed the Bucharest mudbath through injury, is expected to be back in the starting line-up at Anfield.

Liverpool will be without defender Steve Finnan through injury, but should also be boosted by the return of German midfielder Dietmar Hamann for his first start of the season.

“Didi’s been a massive loss for us this season,” said Owen. “I don’t think there are many better holding midfielders in the world.”

Feyenoord may have the odds against them, but the Dutch side put on one of their best domestic league performances this season in a 3-0 victory over Vitesse Arnhem last weekend.

Barcelona have no such worries on the European front after a 3-0 away win over Panionos of Greece, while Parma, Uefa Cup winners in 1995 and 1999, have already trounced SV Salzburg 4-0 away.

One Parma player who will be taking nothing granted, though, is defender Junior, just back from a stint with Brazil which included a 3-3 draw with Uruguay.

“The 4-0 away win was a really great result but we have to be properly prepared when walk out on Thursday,” he told the Parma website. “We were 2-0 up with Brazil and then let in three goals on the trot.”

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