Turkish teams eye top spots in Europa League groups
Both teams faced each other in the Turkish league during the week-end, with Beşiktaş earning an easy 3-0 victory.Two Turkish teams will be out tonight in the Europa League hoping to clinch the top spots in their groups.
Beşiktaş will host Tottenham Hotspur with the Group C leadership at stake, while Trabzonspor visits Legia Warsaw in Group L.
Beşiktaş will have to end Tottenham’s 18-game unbeaten run in the Europa League group stage games if it is to take top spot. The two side drew 1-1 in their first game in the group, thanks to a late penalty by Beşiktaş’s Senegalese striker Demba Ba.
Ba will be out of the squad due to a broken toe, and the home side may have trouble in its offensive line since striker Mustafa Pektemek is also out after suffering an injury in the weekend’s 3-0 victory against Trabzonspor.
Berşiktaş currently sits second in the group standings with nine points, two points behind Spurs.
Trabzonspor, meanwhile, will be hoping to do better than the previous game against Legia, which the Black Sea side lost 1-0 at home. Having improved its performances in the Spor Toto Super League under new coach Ersun Yanal, Tranbzonspor is aiming for a victory to claim top spot in Group L and thus a seeded position in the Round of 32 draw.
Also tonight, trophy holder Sevilla will be among the clubs looking to claim one of the 10 berths still up for grabs in the Europa League knockout stage.
The Spanish side, which beat Benfica on penalties in last season’s final in Turin, hosts Rijeka of Croatia needing just a point to progress, while their visitors have to win to advance from Group G alongside Dutch giant Feyenoord.
Elsewhere, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Villarreal will advance from Group A by avoiding defeat in their games, while Qarabağ could become the first club from Azerbaijan to survive in a major European competition into the spring if it can win at home to Italian giant Inter, which is already certain to win Group F.
“We will be playing in front of our fans and this sometimes can add to the pressure,” Qarabağ captain Rashad Sadygov told UEFA.com, mindful of the fact that a slip-up could see either Saint-Etienne or Dnipro of Ukraine take advantage.
“We have a huge responsibility and just can’t let them down. So we have to be patient and hope God will help us.” Among the other decisive encounters, Lille welcome Bundesliga high-flyer Wolfsburg to northern France in a direct shoot-out to decide who progresses from Group H along with Everton.
While Wolfsburg can afford to settle for a draw, Lille has to win, something it has yet to do in the group.
Everton is already certain to progress as group winner.
Scottish champion Celtic is also already through, although Ronny Deila’s players know they will finish second in Group D to Salzburg, rendering their trip to play Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia meaningless.
“The pressure will be off and the gaffer might change the team but we don’t want to let the fans down over there,” said Celtic’s Irish forward Anthony Stokes, scorer of his team’s winning goal in a weekend Premiership win at Motherwell.