Benfica-Fenerbahce Preview: Eagles to soar high in Lisbon
Jorge Jesus' side may be a goal down in this Europa League semi-final clash, but given their impressive home form, there is no reason to suggest they cannot prevail on Thursday
By Craig Turnbull
Benfica are likely to consider welcoming back Enzo Perez, who was suspended for the first leg in Turkey where the Portuguese outfit went down to a Egemen Korkmaz header.
The Eagles have no injury worries to contend with, though, Ola John picked up a booking in the first leg and will miss the clash which could mean Nicolas Gaitan may get a chance to stake his claim.
Meanwhile, for the visitors, Mehmet Topal and Pierre Webo are both suspended while Raul Meireles was stretchered off at the Sukru Saracoglu, meaning his season is over.
Youngster Salih Ucan, 19, is expected to replace the Portuguese midfielder, with Cristian Baroni dropping back into a more defensive role.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Benfica have won 12 of their 13 home games in the Europa League
- The Eagles' defeat to Fenerbahce last week ended their 38-game unbeaten run across all competitions - before that they lost to Barcelona in October.
- Eduardo Salvio (pictured, right) is the tournament record holder for most appearances (32) and is also a two-time winner of the Europa League with Atletico Madrid.
- Fenerbahce suffered their heaviest ever defeat in Europe when they were trounced 7-0 by Benfica in Lisbon back in the 1975-76 season.
- The Turkish club are targeting their first ever appearance in a final, their previous best was reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2008.
- Aykut Kocaman's charges are yet to lose in any of their six away Europa League matches this campaign (W4, D2).
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Top 3 Predictions
Benfica 1-1 Fenerbahce
- 16.79 %
Benfica 2-1 Fenerbahce
- 15.83 %
Benfica 2-0 Fenerbahce
- 10.75 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||May 2, 2013||Benfica 3 - Fenerbahce 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Apr 25, 2013||Fenerbahce 1 - Benfica 0|
|Dec 10, 2013||Benfica 2 - Paris Saint-Germain 1||UCL|
|Dec 6, 2013||Benfica 2 - FC Arouca 2||POR1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Rio Ave 1 - Benfica 3||POR1|
|Nov 27, 2013||Anderlecht 2 - Benfica 3||UCL|
|Nov 23, 2013||Benfica 1 - Sporting Braga 0||POR1|
|20||Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán||Midfielder|
|35||Enzo Nicolás Pérez||Midfielder|
|33||Jardel Nivaldo Vieira||Defender|
|-||Fehmi Mert Günok||Goalkeeper|
|-||Hasan Ali Kaldırım||Defender|
The Paraguayan striker has already four goals to his name in this competition. Techinically brilliant and oozing class, the Eagles' leading marksmen will be a constant threat both in the air and with the ball at his feet to the visitors' defence.
His experience playing in Europe and the national stage will be invaluable to the Turkish outfit who have players that will not have played in these sort of encounters before. A techinically good player and works hard for the team, he will be a contributing factor if Aykut Kocaman's side reach their first ever final.
This semi-final clash is finely poised and there is reason to believe it could go either way, however, Benfica have demonstrated the Estadio da Luz is a fortress and given Fenerbahce's suspension and injury problems, the Portuguese should progress to the final.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed