Extra officials will be helping referees in the new-look Europa League, as a major revamp of Europe's second-tier cup competition continued ahead of its kick-off today. In one of the biggest shake-ups of the tournament, four assistants will now be on hand to support the referee instead of the standard two. The two extra officials will be stationed behind each goal, keeping an eye out for incidents the referee might miss.
The experimental system will be tested in all 24 group phase matches, and if deemed a success could become the norm. All 48 teams will be in action tonight in the first group stage of the competition. Roma begin their campaign by paying a visit to Swiss team Basle in their Group E opener, with the Brazilian striker Julio Baptista insisting the new-look competition will be a focus for the club this year. "We really care about the Europa League and want to go all the way," said Baptista. "We want to fully honour the competition."
After being knocked out of the Champions League by Arsenal, Celtic travel to Hapoel Tel-Aviv determined to get their Group C campaign off to a winning start. "We believe we can win it," said the Celtic captain Gary Caldwell. "We have proved in previous seasons in the Champions League that we can compete with the very best." Four-time European Cup champions Ajax welcome Romanian minnows Politehnica Timisoara in what should be an easy home start for Martin Jol's men. Having won their first four games of the new season, Valencia will feel confident as they travel to Lille, while Everton will entertain Greek side AEK Athens without captain Phil Neville, after he sustained a knee injury in their Premier League defeat to Fulham.