Fener players ready for clash on European stage
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
BATE Borisov and Fenerbahce players jump for the ball during their Europa League match at Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium in Istanbul on Feb 21. REUTERS photoFenerbahçe hopes to obtain an advantageous result for the second leg of a Europa League round of 16 encounter when the Istanbul club visits Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic.
On a seven-game winning run at home in Europe, the home side will look to keep the goals coming against a Fenerbahçe team that has been in fine fettle on its travels.
Fenerbahçe has not lost an away game since a 2-1 loss at Spartak Moscow in the playoff stage. It has won three and drawn one since the start of the group stage and has not conceded in its last three fixtures on the road.
However, Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman spoke cautiously on the game earlier this week, highlighting the absence of two key players.
“We will be much affected from not being able to use Emre [Belözoğlu] and [Raul] Meireles,” Kocaman told reporters in Istanbul. Emre, who rejoined the club in the mid-season transfer window after spending half a season at Atletico Madrid, is ineligible since he played for Atletico in the Europa league this season. Meireles will not play due to a three-game ban for his red card at BATE Borisov last month in the round of 32.
Plzen is a much better team than Fenerbahçe’s previous rival Borisov and should not be underestimated, according to Kocaman.
“It will be a tough draw for us, Plzen is a great team and we should be very careful,” he said. “But I can say that we will be in the competition for the top if we go pass Plzen.”
Plzen’s only previous encounter with Turkish teams came in the 2010/11 Europa League third qualifying round, when the Czech club drew 1-1 against Fenerbahçe’s Istanbul rival Beşiktaş in Prague and lost 3-0 away.
Tottenham vs Inter
In tonight’s highlight of the Europa League, Tottenham Hotspur will host Inter Milan, with eyes on Tottenham winger Gareth Bale.
Bale grabbed the attention of the footballing world and destroyed the reputation of one of the game’s top right backs the last time he came up against Inter Milan, thus there’s no danger of Bale flying under the radar this time.
The Wales winger’s goal-scoring exploits for the Spurs this season are receiving global acclaim and he has scored 10 times in his last eight matches heading into the first leg. The focus will also be on Inter striker Antonio Cassano, who is expected to return after being dropped following a training-ground scuffle with his coach.
In other matches, Steaua Bucharest will host European champion Chelsea, Lazio travels to Stuttgart and Benfica hosts Bordeaux.