Fenerbahce-Benfica Preview: Hosts eye first European final
The Turkish outfit are aiming to qualify for their first-ever European final, but will be wary of Jorge Jesus' men, as the road to Amsterdam reaches its penultimate stage
By Mohammed Ali
Gonul, Yobo, Korkmaz, Ziegler
Meireles, Sahin, Baroni
Pereira, Luisao, Garay, Melgarejo
Salvio, Lima, Gaitan
Fenerbahce boss Aykut Kocaman has no pressing injury issues ahead of the first-leg of his side's Europa League semi-final against Benfica on Thursday evening.
Dirk Kuyt and Pierre Webo are expected to continue their striking partnership, despite the 2-0 defeat to Gençlerbirligi in their Super Lig last weekend. Moussa Sow and Salih Ucan are pushing for starts, though Kocaman isn't expected to differ too much from Sunday's fixture.
Meanwhile, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has been boosted by the news that Ezequiel Garay has recovered from a slight knock suffered in last weekend's 2-0 win over Sporting.
Oscar Cardozo started that fixture, with Jesus mulling over whether to field the Paraguay international up front in Istanbul, with Ola John waiting in the wings.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Fenerbahce have qualified for their first-ever major continental semi-final, after beating Lazio in the previous round.
- The Turkish outfit have won three of their six games against Portuguese opposition - with a two out of three record on home soil.
- Aykut Kocaman's side are unbeaten in the Europa League since the turn of the year - winning three and drawing three of their six fixtures.
- The Portuguese outfit are hoping to reach the final in Amsterdam - the scene of their European Cup triumph in 1962 over Real Madrid.
- The last time these two sides faced each other in European competition Benfica won 7-1 on aggregate. That scoreline in the first leg remains Fener's heaviest European defeat to date.
- Benfica's Eduardo Salvio holds the joint-highest number of appearances in the Europa League, amassing total of 31 since the competition was re-branded in 2009-10.
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Top 3 Predictions
Fenerbahce 2-0 Benfica
- 13.88 %
Fenerbahce 2-1 Benfica
- 12.78 %
Fenerbahce 1-2 Benfica
- 11.15 %
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||May 2, 2013||Benfica 3 - Fenerbahce 1|
|UEFA Europa League (EL)||Apr 25, 2013||Fenerbahce 1 - Benfica 0|
|Mar 1, 2014||Fenerbahce 2 - Gençlerbirliği SK 0||TUR1|
|Feb 24, 2014||Elazığspor 1 - Fenerbahce 1||TUR1|
|Feb 16, 2014||Fenerbahce 2 - Kasımpaşaspor 1||TUR1|
|Feb 9, 2014||Sivasspor 2 - Fenerbahce 0||TUR1|
|Feb 1, 2014||Eskişehirspor 2 - Fenerbahce 1||TUR1|
|9||Pierre Achille Webo||Striker|
|23||Fehmi Mert Günok||Goalkeeper|
|33||Jardel Nivaldo Vieira||Defender|
|20||Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán||Midfielder|
The former Liverpool star has excelled for Thursday's hosts since moving from Anfield. Kuyt, a seasoned Netherlands international, has three goals in the Europa League, adding to 12 scored in other competitions for Fenerbahce this term.
The Argentina international has re-ignited his career in Portugal since his Real Madrid failure of two years ago, transforming himself into a key component of the Benfica juggernaut. The Portuguese outfit have conceded just three times in the five games he has played in the Europa League.
Benfica are unbeaten since February but Fenerbahce's desire to reach a first European final, coupled with their home support, could see them edge the first leg.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed