Stoke City game marks a new era at Beşiktaş

Stoke City game marks a new era at Beşiktaş

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Stoke City game marks a new era at Beşiktaş

Beşiktaş’s İbrahim Toraman is between two Maccabi players in a Europa League game. Earlier this week, Beşiktaş has welcomed the return of coach Tayfur Havutçu, who wasreleased from the prison. AFP photo

Even a draw will be enough as Beşiktaş hosts Stoke City tonight, hoping to make it to the next round of the Europa League.

The Istanbul team welcomes the Potters at the Fiyapı İnönü Stadium in Istanbul to make it to the round of last 32 in the second-tier European club competition.

Beşiktaş has nine points and trails Stoke City, who has already won a ticket to the next round, by two, and will win the Group E with a win.

Dynamo Kyiv hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the other group game. Dynamo has six points and holds only a slender chance of taking Beşiktaş over, since the Turkish team has a four-goal advantage in goal difference.

This may be the last European match with Carlos Carvalhal in charge, since Tayfur Havutçu was released pending charges as part of a match-fixing case on Dec. 12.

Havutçu, along with Beşiktaş officials Serdal Adalı and Ahmet Ateş were being kept in Istanbul’s Metris Prison since July and are being charged with offering an opposition player a transfer to the club in order to underperform.

Carvalhal, who was hired as an assistant coach earlier this year, was named the caretaker coach and might work with Havutçu upon his return.

Beşiktaş is expected to make a statement on the fate of the coaching spot, following the Stoke City game, ut Havutçu is likely to have a rest for at least a month until the second part of the season.
Meanwhile, one of the contenders of the competition, Paris Saint-Germain will be relying on other results for Europa League progress.

Although the competition offers the clubs the realistic chance of a trophy, PSG knows elimination would leave the team free to focus on more pressing domestic matters.

PSG hosts Athletic Bilbao tonight needing to better Salzburg’s result at Slovan Bratislava if it is to progress ahead of the Austrian club.

With 15 teams having advanced, nine remaining berths are up for grabs this week - with 19 clubs in contention to fill them.

Chasing its first French league title since 1993-94, PSG might be happy with focusing on domestic challenge only.

PSG is tied with Montpellier at the top of the French league.

PSG will be missing striker Guillaume Hoarau and midfielders Clement Chantome and Blaise Matuidi against Bilbao, which has already advanced.

Javier Pastore is still out of form, with the 42 million-euro playmaker without a goal in six games, but Nene has been playing well recently and Kevin Gameiro ended an 11-game scoring drought in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Sochaux.

That was also PSG’s first clean sheet in six games after conceding nine in the previous five.
“It had been a while since we didn’t concede a goal,” coach Antoine Kombouare said. “It’s the best way to prepare the Bilbao match on Wednesday. Victories give us a lot of confidence.” Winger Jeremy Menez said PSG should at least try to advance.

“It would be a failure if we get knocked out, considering our squad,” Menez said.

Also tonight, Lazio needs to pick up more points in Group D against Sporting Lisbon than FC Vaslui manages at FC Zurich to edge the Romanian team to the next round.

Lazio struggled against Lecce at the weekend before winning 3-2 for a second straight victory, but goalkeeper Federico Marchetti is out injured and defenders Giuseppe Biava and Abdoulay Konko are also doubts.

“Our unity is our strength,” coach Edy Reja said. “There’s the right rapport.”
Udinese needs only to avoid defeat to visiting Celtic tomorrow to advance from Group I alongside 2010 champion Atletico Madrid, which can clinch top spot with victory over eliminate Rennes.
Victory for Celtic would take the Scottish side through courtesy of a superior head-to-head record against Udinese.

Udinese surprised many last season by finishing fourth and the unfashionable club was expected to struggle after losing key midfielder Gokhan Inler to Napoli and striker Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona.

But Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin, who said recently that his main aim remains avoiding relegation, has maneuvered his team into contention for Italy’s Serie A title.