Turkish sides raise expectations on Europa night
TRIPOLIS / TRABZON
Beşiktaş is counting on the form of its Senegalese striker, Demba Ba. AFP Photo / Ozan KöseIstanbul’s Beşiktaş seeks to guarantee a happy ending in the UEFA Europa League Group C, at a difficult away game against Asteras Tripolis in neighboring Greece. Meanwhile, Black Sea team Trabzonspor is ready for Metalist Kharkiv, also in a bid to be qualified.
Beşiktaş, which shares the top of the standings with Tottenham with eight points in the first four games, will challenge the London team in the last game for the top seat if it can generate three points on Nov. 27.
Asteras lost its unbeaten European home record – four matches in a row – on Nov. 6 against Tottenham and needs to get back to its winning ways against Beşiktaş if they are to be sure of having something to play for on matchday six.
In the first game of the group stage in Istanbul, Asteras center forward Facundo Parra buried a late volley to secure a 1-1 draw with Beşiktaş, after Gökhan Töre had put the hosts up earlier in the game.
Beşiktaş striker Demba Ba has scored in all three of his group stage games this season. He’s scored four goals in total, as the Senegalese struck twice in the most recent league game against city rivals Kasımpaşa over the weekend, assuring a 2-0 win, which put Beşiktaş back on the top of the local standings.
Turkish teams have had the better Greece in the 16 UEFA competition meetings between clubs from these countries, recording seven wins to the Greek sides’ four.
This is Beşiktaş’s sixth group stage campaign in this competition; they failed to make it through three UEFA Cup group stages but have progressed in both attempts since the advent of the UEFA Europa League.
Trabzonspor beat Metalist 2-1 in Ukraine on matchday one, but the Turkish side lost its most recent home game against Ukrainian opponents, while Metalist won their last match in Turkey.
Metalist and Slovan Bratislava are the only sides to have lost all four of their group stage fixtures this season.
This will be the first European test for newly-appointed Trabzon coach Ersun Yanal, who had coached Trabzonspor in 2008-2009, but parted ways with the club before the end of the season.
Metalist’s Brazilian striker Jajá left the club for Trabzonspor in 2010, scoring 12 goals in 29 league games for the Black Sea outfit before moving on in 2011. He rejoined Metalist in 2013.
One statistical note may put its mark on the game, with Trabzonspor being the most fouled side in the group stage so far, as their opponents were penalized 75 times.
Group L leader Legia Warszawa has already won all four games and secured qualification before they play against Lokeren, whose hopes hang by a thread.