Turks hope to advance in Europa League
AA photoTwo Turkish teams will be at home on Feb. 23, hoping to advance to the next round of the Europa League competition.
Spor Toto Super League leader Beşiktaş will play Israel’s Hapoel Beer Sheva in Istanbul in the return leg following a 3-1 victory, while Osmanlıspor will play Greek side Olympiacos in Ankara following a goalless draw in the first leg.
Hapoel Beer Sheva has toiled for little reward on their European travels this season, and they simply cannot afford for that to be the case against Beşiktaş.
Numbers are on Beşiktaş’s side, as the team is undefeated in five games against Israeli opponents, winning three of them.
Ominously for Beer Sheva, Beşiktaş is also unbeaten in six European home matches, with one win and five score draws, including four 1-1s.
Beer Sheva, on the other hand, has won just one of its six European away games this season, 2-0 at Inter Milan in the group stage. Osmanlıspor has had a good run in its debut European season and may continue the run if it beats Olympiacos.
The Ankara club has yet to lose a European game on home pitch, winning five and drawing one so far, conceding in just one of those six games. The Greek club’s four games against Turkish sides have ended in just one win, while it has lost both games it has played in Turkey.
Also on Feb. 23 in the Europa League, Villarreal and Sparta Prague will have a mountain to climb to advance, trailing respectively Roma and Rostov by four goals following last week’s first legs.
Lyon also has one foot in the last 16 after a three-goal victory over AZ Alkmaar.
But for Tottenham Hotspur, progress remains very much in the balance following last week’s 1-0 defeat at Gent.
Tottenham’s European form this season has been dire, as the London club has won just two of seven matches so far and suffered the ignominy of being knocked out of the Champions League group stages.
But a hat-trick from England striker Harry Kane gave Spurs a 3-0 FA Cup win at Fulham on Feb. 19, which Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld hopes can inspire his side at Wembley.
“We’re looking forward to [the second leg], to change the game we played last Thursday, get a good result and get to the next round,” he said.
Things are tight also for Fiorentina, which will defend a 1-0 lead at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Athletic Bilbao heads to APOEL in Greek Cyprus with a slender 3-2 lead.
Shakhtar Donetsk has a single goal lead ahead of its match against Celta Vigo at its home away from home in Kharkiv.