Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe eye Europa wins to ease tensions
Last season’s Turkish Cup winner Akhisar, meanwhile, will be seeking its first point on the European stage when it hosts Sevilla, against which the Aegean side lost 6-0 a fortnight ago.
Genk will be buoyed by its 4-2 victory in Istanbul over Beşiktaş, which has managed to grab just one victory in its last five domestic and European games.
The loss in Istanbul was a result that put the Belgian side on top of the Group I table while relegating the Istanbul club to the bottom.
Both clubs won their opening home games in the Group I competition, Genk 2-0 against Malmö, Beşiktaş 3-1 against Sarpsborg, before losing in Scandinavia on Matchday Two: The Belgian club fell to a 3-1 defeat in Norway and the Turkish side went down 2-0 to Malmö in Sweden.
On Oct 25, a double from Genk’s Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta helped power them to victory in Istanbul, Vagner Love’s two goals for Beşiktaş proving too little too late.
On the Anatolian side of Istanbul, Fenerbahçe will be playing its first game on the European stage since the firing of Dutch coach Philippe Cocu.
Erwin Koeman, who replaced Cocu as the interim coach, salvaged a 2-2 draw in an eventful match at archrival Galatasaray on Nov. 2 in his first game in charge, and will be much eager for a win against Anderlecht if he wants to hang on to the job permanently.
Anderlecht surprisingly props up Europa League Group D with just a single point and is under severe pressure to claim a first win in its campaign.
The record champion of Belgium surrendered a 2-0 lead at home to Fenerbahçe last time out, after a Zakaria Bakkali double had appeared to put the home side in charge, but the draw at least earned it a first point following defeats at Spartak Trnava (0-1) and at home to Dinamo Zagreb (0-2).
The Istanbul side is three points better off, having recovered from an opening 4-1 defeat in Zagreb to defeat Trnava 2-0 in Istanbul.
Sitting one point above the relegation zone in the Turkish league with two wins in 11 weeks, Fenerbahçe desperately needs to show its teeth before it’s too late.
Also on Nov. 8 in the Europa League, Unai Emery’s Arsenal heads into the clash with Sporting Lisbon at the Emirates bidding for a place in the Europa League knockout stage, buoyed by an impressive display in its draw against Premier League title hopeful Liverpool.
The Gunners are top of Group E having won all three of their matches so far, and have looked revitalized in the early stages of the post-Arsene Wenger era.
A second straight victory over Portuguese giant Sporting would extend the club’s unbeaten run to 15 matches in all competitions.
Back-to-back defeats by Manchester City and Chelsea at the start of the campaign had left some onlookers questioning whether Arsenal could compete with stronger opposition, but close-season signing Bernd Leno said Nov. 3’s performance had proved a point.
“I think we saw that we can play our way against big teams,” the German goalkeeper told the club’s website.
“We controlled Liverpool. We played out from the back. It was not just lucky or lucky things to create from. We played the ball with passes from behind and that’s the way we want to play.”
The 2006 Champions League runner-up failed to qualify for Europe’s top competition in each of Wenger’s last two seasons at the helm, but is now in contention to end that run on two fronts.