Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray to seek Europa League next round in away games
Turkish clubs Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray aim to advance to the round of 16 when they play second leg games on Dec. 21 in the Europa League.
Fenerbahçe will travel to Zenit in the return of last week’s 1-0 home win, while Galatasaray visits Benfica with a daunting task at hand following a 2-1 loss at home in the first leg.
Russian Premier League leader Zenit will need to maintain its perfect home run in Europe this season if it is to knock out Fenerbahçe.
The Istanbul club has been struggling in the Spor Toto Super League competition, but has yet to concede at home in this Europa League campaign. But away games have created problems for the club.
Fenerbahçe’s autumn struggles in the Turkish league were counterbalanced by the extension of its Europa League journey into the spring, although it finished with eight points, the lowest total of any of the 24 qualified teams and six points behind group winner Dinamo Zagreb.
An instinctive 21st-minute strike from Islam Slimani proved the difference between the sides in the first leg at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, although Zenit’s Robert Mak had a penalty brilliantly saved by Harun Tekin just before the interval.
Zenit has never lost at home in the Europa League, group stage to final, winning 20 of its 22 matches in St Petersburg. Furthermore, the Russians have a 100 percent success rate at home in Europe this term with five wins out of five.
The Turkish side is without a victory in five European away fixtures, losing four of those and drawing the other. It has only ever won once away from home in a springtime UEFA fixture: 1-0 at Viktoria Plzen in the first leg of the 2012-2013 Europa League round of 16.
Fenerbahçe has won the home first leg in UEFA competition 25 times and has gone on to win 16 of those ties. However, when the advantage was 1-0, the team was eliminated four times out of five.
It has twice been knocked out of the Europa League after winning the first leg 1-0 in Istanbul: By Benfica in the 2012-2013 semifinals (1-3 away) and Braga in the 2015-2016 round of 16 (1-4 away).
In Lisbon, Benfica has the edge over Turkish champion Galatasaray in the only Europa League round of 32 tie to feature two teams that spent the autumn in the UEFA Champions League.
Benfica’s in-form Swiss international striker Haris Seferovic was the match-winner in Istanbul last week, scoring the winning goal 10 minutes after Galatasaray’s Christian Luyindama had equalized Eduardo Salvio’s first-half penalty.
Galatasaray’s chances of advancing look slim as it has been struggling in away games on the European stage.
The Istanbul club has lost all of its last seven European away fixtures, failing to score in five of them. That sequence started with the 2-1 defeat at Benfica in the 2015-2016 season.
The club has not won a European match outside Turkey since a 3-2 victory at Schalke in the second leg of the 2012-2013 Champions League round of 16 clash; its record on the road since then is two draws and 14 losses.
Benfica, meanwhile, has been defeated in 10 of its last 18 European fixtures, winning five of them, and it has not scored more than one goal in any of its last 12 European games in Lisbon, managing just nine in total.
However, it has never lost at home in any phase of the Europa League, registering 17 wins and two draws.
The Portuguese club has lost only one of 18 UEFA competition ties after winning the first leg away: 50 years ago against Ajax in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup quarterfinals.