Beşiktaş ready for final-like Euro test
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Beşiktaş defender Egemen Korkmaz looks on during his team’s first-leg game against Atletico Madrid. AA photoBeşiktaş has to overturn a 3-1 first leg defeat when it hosts Atletico Madrid tonight in a Europa League game that will define its season. The Istanbul team needs to win by two goals against a solid Spaniard side in order to make it to the last eight of the second-tier competition in European football.
Beşiktaş holds on to the European success to make its season worthwhile after falling further from the top in the Spor Toto Super League. Beşiktaş is now trailing rival Galatasaray from a 19-point distance in the domestic competition. The Istanbul team has won just twice in its last 11 games in all competitions.
However, Beşiktaş needs to overcome the absence of Ricardo Quaresma against Atletico Madrid. The Portuguese superstar was left out of the squad after reportedly harshly responding to being substituted during the first-leg game at Vicente Calderon.
Portuguese coach Carlos Carvalhal will be able to use his compatriot Hugo Almeida against Atletico since the forward returns from suspension.
“We have nothing to lose against Atletico Madrid,” Carvalhal said at a press conference yesterday. “We will make history if we win. That’s what we will play for.”
Atletico Madrid’s Turkish midfielder Arda Turan has a lingering injury and holds a slight chance of being used by Argentinean coach Diego Simeone.
The game at the İnönü Stadium kicks off at 10 p.m. The highlight of the Europa League night, however, will be the games of two Manchester teams.
Manchester rivals United and City are well clear at the top of the Premier League standings but are playing for survival in continental competition in the Europa League tonight.
United is trailing 3-2 and away at Athletic Bilbao. A fearless performance by the young Bilbao team in last week’s first-leg encounter was a further blow to what has largely been a stuttering European campaign for United this season. City is on home soil, where it is unbeaten in Europe in nearly four years, but needs to overturn a 1-0 loss at Sporting Lisbon last week.
Bilbao is aiming to be one of three Spanish teams through to the quarterfinals, with Valencia both carrying a two-goal advantage after a dominant home win.
Olympiakos, Twente and AZ Alkmaar all hold advantages going into their return matches.
Manchester United has lost successive European games for the first time in 16 years to follow up its exit from the Champions League.
“We have had a bad year in Europe,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “Maybe it is just one of those years where we are having to restock and assess how we should approach games at home.” Nani, Anderson (hamstring), Antonio Valencia (hamstring) and Tom Cleverley (ankle) are all in doubt for the Europa League match, while even Wayne Rooney may not be risked for this match ahead of a weekend trip to Wolves for the Premier League-leading United.
Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente and playmaker Oscar de Marcos both missed training earlier this week ahead of the match at the San Mames, which will be at its 40,000-capacity. Bilbao is aiming reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 1976-77 season.
“No doubt we are going to suffer, so we’re going to have to stick together and be strong,” midfielder Ander Herrera said. “The best way to close out the series is to score. We’ll go out looking to win from the very first minute while remembering we’re playing one of the world’s best clubs.” Manchester City will be bidding to rebound from its league loss on Sunday and there’s speculation Carlos Tevez will return to face the Portuguese club.
“I have always been a big fan of Tevez, I love him,” City fullback Micah Richards said. “There were games last season where he carried us on his own and in these sort of games he would get a 1-0 win for us. It’s up to the manager ultimately but I would love to see him back.” The depth of City’s defensive stocks will be tested with Vincent Kompany (calf) set to miss out, while Joleon Lescott (groin) and right back Pablo Zabaleta (hamstring) both doubtful.