Sevilla and Ajax set for flying start to UEFA Cup
LONDON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Holders Sevilla and Ajax Amsterdam should make a comfortable start to the UEFA Cup on Thursday but off colour Paris St Germain risk a first round upset in Ireland.
Sevilla, who open at Greek outsiders Atromitos, continued an impressive start to the season with a 3-1 win at Real Sociedad on Sunday that put them top of the Primera Liga on goal difference.
After beating Barcelona 3-0 in the European Super Cup just over two weeks ago they have scored seven goals in their first two league matches and the absence of Uruguayan striker Ernesto Chevanton with a back strain should not be a major setback.
The draw has thrown up its share of what should be one-sided affairs, with four-times European champions Ajax taking on unsung Start from Norway.
Convincing 3-0 winners over Vitesse Arnhem at the weekend, Ajax will face a side who reached the first round by beating Drogheda United 11-10 in a marathon penalty shootout.
Another potential mis-match pitches Paris St Germain against Derry City, with the Irish club hosting the first leg after knocking out twice former winners IFK Gothenburg and Gretna in the qualifiers.
The Brandywell's capacity for this all-seater game will be less than 3,000 and the club could have earned a lot more by moving it to either Dublin or Belfast.
'It's a real minus that a lot of our supporters can't see the game and I understand the financial considerations,' Derry manager Stephen Kenny told the Sunday Times.
'But when we made our decision we had won every game at the Brandywell this season up to that point. We have to give ourselves every chance.'
Despite their fame and the fact they could should win comfortably over two legs, PSG look ripe for an upset on Thursday, having lost three, drawn one and won only one Ligue 1 game this season.
Now 15th in the table after Sunday's 3-1 defeat by Olympique Marseille, their first at home to their arch-rivals since the 1999-2000 season, the French could well end up with only a draw for their efforts.
'It's not a crisis yet but our results are really disappointing,' chairman Alain Cayzac was quoted as saying after the game. Coach Bernard Lacombe lamented a lack of discipline in a side who have conceded four penalties this season.
Marseille, buoyed by a triumph in the French capital which took them back to the top of Ligue 1, host Czech side Mlada Boleslav at the Stade Velodrome.
Parma, who lifted their second UEFA Cup in 1999, are away to Russian club Rubin, 1997 winners Schalke 04 are at home to Nancy and an injury-hit Feyenoord travel to Lokomotiv Sofia.
Feyenoord, who won the 2002 UEFA Cup final in their own De Kuip stadium against Borussia Dortmund, have four injured defenders - Philippe Leonard, Ron Vlaar, Pieter Collen and Dwight Tiendalli.
Leading the English interest are West Ham United, who made headlines for their double swoop for Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano of Argentina and who host Palermo.
Hammers captain Nigel Reo-Coker told the club's Web site: 'Evening games under the floodlights at Upton Park are always very special, but it will be even more so this week with it being our first UEFA Cup game.
'This is our reward for getting to the Cup final last year and we intend to make the most of it. The boys are so fired up already.'
West Ham, who lost to Champions League hopefuls Manchester United in that FA Cup final, are joined in the first round by Tottenham Hotspur, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.