Europa League: Fenerbahce v Benfica match preview

A look ahead to tonight’s Europa League semi-final first leg at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium

Fenerbahce qualified for their first-ever major European semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate victory over Lazio earlier this month and Aykut Kocaman’s side are now bidding to go a step further and reach the final.

The Turkish side welcome Benfica to Istanbul for the first of a two-legged showdown and will be desperate to make home advantage count. The sides’ brief history in European competition, which dates back to 1975, will be comfortable reading for the Lisbon-based club, who thrashed Fenerbahce 7-1 on aggregate in the European Cup.

Benfica are the only side who remain undefeated in this season’s Europa League, winning five and drawing one of their games since joining the competition at the round of 32. The Portuguese champions elect, who haven’t lost in their domestic league this term, advanced to the semi-final after edging past a spirited Newcastle side in the last round.

Jorge Jesus’ men reached the semi-final of the Europa League in 2011, but came up desperately short of a place in the final, in an away goals defeat to Braga. Jesus will be using any lasting memories of that defeat to inspire his players, as they go out in pursuit of away goals in Istanbul.

 

KICK-OFF: Thursday, 8.05pm

 

STATS…

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.

Fenerbahçe's record in six games against Portuguese sides is three victories and three defeats.

None of the four remaining teams have previously won either the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League.

Benfica matched Atlético's feat of reaching the UEFA Europa League semi-finals for the second time, after making their debut in 2010/11.

 

ODDS…

Fenerbahce to win: 3

Benfica to win: 2.37

Draw: 3.25

 

TV: Live on ITV 4 at 8.05pm.

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