Lazio fear derby day distraction
Sergio Floccari hopes Lazio can stay focused during Thursday's Europa League opener against Legia Warsaw with the Rome derby looming large on the horizon.
The Italians are in good form, with two wins from three in Serie A, but domestic duties have perhaps stolen the limelight from a Group J meeting with Legia, who are unbeaten in six European games.
The first 'Derby della Capitale' of the new season takes place on Sunday night and Lazio are definitely out for revenge having lost the Coppa Italia final to fierce rivals Roma in May.
Floccari said: "Our fans are already thinking about the derby, but we know that we will face a team that have a winning mentality considering they have won the Polish title for three years in a row.
"Legia have nothing to lose and we will have to be careful."
Apollon Limassol host Turkish club Trabzonspor in the group's other game.
Italy's second representatives Fiorentina host Pacos de Ferreira in Group E, where Romanians Pandurii Targu Jiu make their Europa League bow at home to Dnipro.
Real Betis, meanwhile, are plotting a fourth straight win over French opposition at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Monaco, Auxerre and Bordeaux have already come a cropper in Sevilla and Lyon are next in the firing line.
Betis midfielder Salva Sevilla said: "We are ambitious and we want to go as far as possible - we will not compromise.
"Every year we have hit our targets and this year we want to go a long way in every competition."
Guimaraes and Rijeka are the other hopefuls in Group I and meet in Portugal on Thursday.
The Atlantic nation also plays host to Betis' city rivals Sevilla, who must face Estoril.
Rojiblancos coach Unai Emery is still smarting after Saturday's league defeat to Barcelona but feels his side are making steady progress.
"There are some situations where you can't just leap to the top," he said. "If you need to climb up 100 stairs then all you can do is take them four at a time."
The remaining Group H game pits Freiburg against Slovan Liberec at the Mage Solar Stadion.
Tottenham head the English delegation and host Norwegian minnows Tromso at White Hart Lane in Group K, while Sheriff Tiraspol and Anzhi Makhachkala go head-to-head in Moldova.
Welsh side Swansea are representing England in Group A - which also includes St Gallen and Kuban Krasnodar - and their continental adventure begins at Valencia.
Wigan were relegated from the Premier League but won the FA Cup to earn a place alongside Zulte-Waregem, Maribor and Rubin Kazan in Group D. A trip to Belgium is first up for Owen Coyle's Latics.
The Bundesliga meets Ligue 1 in Group F with 1980 UEFA Cup winners Eintracht Frankfurt tackling 1996 runners-up Bordeaux and, in the same group, Maccabi Tel-Aviv meet Apoel Nicosia.
PSV Eindhoven are the favourites to dominate Group B - also contested by Chernomorets and Dinamo Zagreb - and coach Phillip Cocu is eager to give youth a chance against Ludogorets.
"Things need to change and we are in that process now," he said. "That means that sometimes you have to leave people out so you can give youngsters the chance to show what they can do."
Shakhter Karagandy, who came within a goal of beating Celtic to the Champions League group stage, visit PAOK Salonika in Group I while Maccabi Haifa meet Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in Israel.
There is the potential for a case of mistaken identity in Group C, but Esbjerg and Elfsborg are heading in different directions for their opening games.
The Danes head to Belgium to meet Standard Liege as Elfsborg leave Sweden for Salzburg in Austria.
Elsewhere, Genk visit Dynamo Kiev in Group L while FC Thun host Rapid Vienna.