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Europa League: Dortmund, Schalke target group victories

Borussia Dortmund and Schalke need strong results against Greek clubs to finish top of their Europa League groups. Augsburg, meanwhile, are trying to scale a steep mountain towards the knockout stage.

Though they have dropped a point here and there, both Dortmund and Schalke have already punched their tickets to the knockout stages. That removes some weight on their final group stage results, but they can both make their knockout scenarios easier by capturing the top spot in their group.

Dortmund will have the most difficult time securing a group victory. They have to host Greek club PAOK,

who they drew the reverse fixture to

, and hope Krasnodar drop points to Qäbälä in Armenia. Several key players - Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Julian Weigl - could be unavailable as well, forcing Thomas Tuchel to construct another unique-looking squad.

"The Europa League requires good performances throughout the entire year," said Tuchel, speaking at his pre-match press conference. "We've had a very uncomfortable group, but I'm glad that we're through. But with Sevilla now in the competition, we already know the winner."

Schalke are under much less stress in their final group stage match against Greek club Asteras Tripolis. Their two-point cushion over Sparta Prague allows the Königsblauen to go for a draw, a result much easier to swallow especially on the road. Even without Dennis Aogo and Leon Goretzka, Royal Blues coach Andre Breitenreiter has the pieces to rotate his squad, something he has done effectively in the group stage.

"We've come here with the intention of winning," said Andre Breitenreiter at his pre-match press conference. I'll be mixing the team up somewhat, but we have a strong enough squad to take what we want."

Europa League Fußball Augsburg gegen Alkmaar

Without Raul Bodabilla, Augsburg face a monumental task in their final group stage match against Partizan

Augsburg's last chance

The mountain to the knockout stage is much steeper for Augsburg. A heart-wrenching loss to Athletic Bilbao have crippled their chances, a blow they will have to overcome in Partizan.

Three points is a gap that a victory can close, but the head-to-head rules would still eliminate Augsburg from the competition. Only a two goal victory is going to do a trick, a level of difficulty that will be hard to overcome.

"We are not the favorite," said coach Markus Weinzierl, "but we want European hibernation."

Raul Bobadilla's ankle injury makes their knockout prospects much more bleak. He will be questionable to play according to reports, and that question casts a big shaddow over Augsburg's chances to advance. Bobadilla has scored five goals in four group stage appearances - second best in the Europa League so far - and an attack without him is much lest potent.

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