Trabzonspor seeks salvation on European stage
The Black Sea side lost its opening game of the group on Sept. 8, 1-0 at 10-man Ferencvaraos, adding to the wounds of being knocked out of the Champions League by Copenhagen in August.
A 3-2 loss to Adana Demirspor in the Süper Lig on Sept. 12 increased the pressure on Abdullah Avcı to pick up the pieces.
“In the last two weeks, we have seen our opponents running at us, exploiting our weaknesses, we are not used to that,” Avcı said after the Adana Demirspor game.
“We have work to do both individually and together as a team to better our game. We should not concede such easy goals at this level. We will question, we will evaluate our game and individual performances. Playing on the European stage, having injured players is no excuse for such performances.”
Also tonight, Fenerbahçe will hope to add to its opening week victory when it visits Rennes in Group B.
In the Europa Conference League, Başakşehir hosts Fiorentina and Sivasspor visits Cluj.
In Portugal on Sept. 15, cult German club Union Berlin hopes to carry its domestic form onto the European stage when it visits Braga in the Europa League, having lost at home to Union Saint-Gilloise last week.
“The only thing that matters on Thursday is that we get our first points on the board. We want to show our league face,” Union goalkeeper Lennart Grill told German media.
The 1-0 loss to its Belgian opponent is the only blemish on a brilliant start to the campaign for Union, which reached new heights last weekend as it stormed to the top of the Bundesliga for the first time in its history.
The popular minnow from East Berlin is full of confidence after notching up four wins from its opening six games in Germany’s top flight.
Union is on the Bundesliga’s longest unbeaten run, having not lost in 13 games, despite having faced Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig (twice) and cross-town rival Hertha Berlin (twice) during that spell.
“I’m particularly happy about the 14 points that will help us because there will certainly be phases in which we are not doing well,” said coach Urs Fischer.
“It’s a nice moment to remember,” the notoriously stoic Swiss said of his side’s view from the top.
Union Berlin’s outsider appeal existed a long time before their promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019, but in recent weeks the club has won the support of German football’s mainstream.
After his side was held to a 1-1 draw away at Union on matchday four, Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann was full of praise for Union.
“The fans are cool, the stadium is cool, the club is cool, Urs is cool,” he said.
Even former Bayern president Uli Hoeness served up one of his famous backhanded compliments, a sure sign Union has captured German football’s attention.
“[They are] very successful, very likable, I like it,” he said.
“They do a great job, but that’s a different concept. You can’t win the Champions League with that.”