Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Europa League clash between Fenerbahce and FC Slovacko, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Fenerbahçe will be looking to claim an advantage when they welcome FC Slovacko to Istanbul for the first leg of their third qualifying round Europa League contest on Thursday night.
The Turkish giants lost to Dynamo Kiev in the second qualifying round for the Champions League, which has seen them drop into the Europa League, while Slovacko secured their spot at this stage of the competition by finishing fourth in the Czech First League in 2021-22 .
Fenerbahce have not been present in the group stage of the Champions League since the 2008-09 campaign, and they again fell short this year, losing to Dynamo Kiev in the second qualifying round.
The two sides played out a goalless draw in the first leg on July 20 before Kiev won 2-1 in the second leg after extra-time, meaning that the Turkish giants are now fighting to secure a spot in the group stage of the Europa League , which is the competition that they featured in the last term.
Indeed, Fenerbahce beat HJK in the playoff round of last year’s competition before featuring in Group D alongside Olympiacos, Eintracht Frankfurt and Royal Antwerp, but they finished third in the section, failing to make the knockout round in the process.
The Yellow Canaries finished second in Turkey’s top flight last season, eight points behind the champions Trabzonspor, and they are preparing for the start of their new domestic campaign against Umraniyespor on August 8.
Jorge Jesus‘s side have been busy during this summer’s transfer window, bringing in a number of players, including Diego Rossi, Name Mor, Joshua King and Lincoln.
Slovacko, meanwhile, finished fourth in the Czech First League last season, which saw them advance to the third qualifying round of the Europa League.
Martin Swedik‘s side have already started their 2022-23 domestic campaign, drawing 2-2 with Zbrojovka Brno on July 30, but this will be their first ever appearance in the Europa League.
Last season, Slovacko were beaten by Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League, which proved to be their first European action since taking part in the UEFA Intertoto Cup back in 2002.
The Czech outfit will know that they are up against it in this two-legged tie, but a positive result on Thursday evening would put them in a strong position ahead of the reverse fixture on home soil on August 11.
Fenerbahce form (all competitions):
FC Slovacko form (all competitions):
Fenerbahce have not been in action since the second leg of their Champions League second qualifying round contest with Dynamo Kiev, but they will be missing some players for this contest.
Serdar Aziz is out with a groin problem, while Mert Hakan Yandas and Nazim Sangare are also unavailable for selection due to fitness problems.
The home side will be missing Ismail Yuksek due to the red card that he picked up against Kiev last time out, which could open the door for Lincoln to feature in the midfield.
Meanwhile, there are likely to be spots in the final third of the field for King and Enner Valencia.
As for Slovacko, head coach Svedik will need to make a final check on the fitness of his players following their league match on Saturday.
The Czech outfit have not reported any fresh injury concerns from the weekend, so it would not be a surprise to see close to the same XI take to the field for a second successive match.
Daniel Holzer is already off the mark for the new season in terms of goals and should again lead the line, meanwhile Michal Travnik is expected to play as the number 10 for the visitors.
Fenerbahce possible starting lineup:
Bayindir; Osayi-Samuel, Tisserand, Father Szalai, Kadioglu; Kahveci, Arao, Lincoln, Rossi; Valencia, King
FC Slovacko possible starting lineup:
Nguyen; Reinberk, Hofmann, Kadlec, Kalabiska; Danicek, Havlik; Petrzela, Travnik, Doski; Holzer
We say: Fenerbahce 2-0 FC Slovacko
Slovacko are certainly capable of causing problems on Thursday evening, but we are finding it really difficult to back against Fenerbahce in the first leg and indeed in the tie. Jesus’ side will be keen to move on from their Champions League disappointment, and we are expecting them to win this fairly comfortably.
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Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data