Off-form Istanbul clubs on UEFA Europa League stage
Two major Istanbul clubs struggling in the Turkish league want to give their supporters some joy when theey go on the pitch for Europa League games against Belgian opponents on Oct. 25.
Also, last season’s Turkish Cup winner Akhisar will seek its first European victory at Sevilla.
Beşiktaş’s 2-0 defeat at Göztepe over the weekend was its second loss of the season, with three draws and four wins putting the club in the fourth spot in the standings.
As pressure mounts over coach Şenol Güneş, Beşiktaş will be eager to give its fans something to cheer about when it plays Genk at Vodafone Park.
Both sides are aiming to get back on track after matchday two defeats that have left Group I finely poised. The clubs both won their opening home games, Beşiktaş 3-1 against Sarpsborg and Genk 2-0 against Malmö, before losing in Scandinavia on matchday two, the Turkish side going down 2-0 to Malmö in Sweden and the Belgian club falling to a 3-1 defeat in Norway.
Another coach under pressure is Phillip Cocu, whose Fenerbahçe sits in th 15th spot in Turkish league standings with just two wins in nine games. A goalless draw at Sivasspor over the weekend did not help the Dutch coach, with calls for his resignation growing.
Anderlecht, on the other hand, was defeated without scoring in both of its opening two Europa League Group D encounters, and will be eager to get off the mark against Fenerbahçe in Brussels.
The record champion of Belgium followed an opening 0-1 defeat at Spartak Trnava with a shock 0-2 loss at home to Dinamo Zagreb.
Fenerbahçe, meanwhile, recovered from a 4-1 defeat in Zagreb to claim its first points of the section with a 2-0 victory over Trnava in Istanbul, Algerian striker Islam Slimani, on loan from Leicester City, scoring both goals.
Fenerbahçe finished runner-up in the Turkish league and cup last season, with Galatasaray edging it out in the Super League and unheralded Akhisar shocking the club with a 3-2 cup final win.
The Istanbul club opened its 2017-2018 European campaign with a Champions League third qualifying round defeat by Benfica, which sent it directly into the Europa League group stage.
Also on Oct. 25, three-time Europa League winner Sevilla will expect to get its Group J campaign back on track as it entertains Turkish side Akhisar, which has yet to avoid defeat in its debut European campaign.
The Spanish club overpowered Standard Liège 5-1 on matchday one to prolong its 100 percent record of success from the qualifying phase, but then surrendered a lead to lose 2-1 away to Krasnodar.
Akhisar, meanwhile, followed up a 0-1 home defeat to the Russian club on its European bow by losing 2-1 in Belgium.