Liverpool take break from domestic troubles

BERNE - Liverpool will get their regular break from the domestic troubles when they visit Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday while holders Atletico Madrid look for a first group stage win when they host Rosenborg.

Liverpool, who are in the Premier League relegation zone and have been stuck in the middle of an ownership battle, have found some relief in the Europa League where they have won five and drawn one of their six games, including qualifying ties.

They top Group K with four points, although Thursday's match will be by far their toughest test so far with Napoli fourth in Serie A and Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani in prolific form.

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson, who led Fulham to the final last season, has seemed far more comfortable in Europe and is hoping Thursday's game can provide the springboard for out-of-sorts Spain striker Fernando Torres.

"He was vilified by all and sundry both in this country and Spain during the World Cup," said Hodgson.

"I think mentally he's a little bit low about that, I understand that, and the only thing that can pick him up is playing well and scoring some goals."

"I thought he played well (in a 2-0 defeat) against Everton on Sunday and was a constant thorn in their defence. Even at the end when he did set up a goal chance for himself, Tim Howard made a great save.

"If that had gone in, who knows, maybe that would have been the catalyst for him to start believing in himself again."

Napoli hit back from three goals down to draw 3-3 at Steaua Bucharest in their last outing.

Atletico have taken only one point from their first two games in Group B and are bottom while Rosenborg, unbeaten in their last 28 Norwegian league matches, have three. Bayer Leverkusen top the group with four points and face a trip to Aris Salonika who have three points.

Atletico expect to have Argentina forward Sergio Aguero back from injury.

Poland's Lech Poznan, surprise leaders of Group A, hope to continue their impressive run when they visit Manchester City while former European champions Juventus visit Salzburg in the same group.

Several teams have undergone coaching changes recently.

VfB Stuttgart, top of Group H with maximum points but bottom of the Bundesliga, parted with Christian Gross last week and will be playing their second match under Jens Keller when they host Getafe.

Dynamo Kiev visit AZ Alkmaar in Group E looking to bounce back from the shock 2-0 defeat to Moldova's Sheriff Tiraspol which prompted Valeri Gazzaev to resign at the end of last month. He has been replaced by Oleg Luzhny.

PAOK Salonika coach Pavlos Dermitzakis quit on Saturday after only three months in charge and his former assistant Mikos Havos will be in charge for the visit to Villarreal in Group D.