Preview: Besiktas vs. Dynamo Kiev 

Preview: Besiktas vs. Dynamo Kiev 

Besiktas will be aiming to protect their 3-2 lead against Dynamo Kiev in the Europa Conference League playoff round on Thursday.

The Turkish side prevailed in the first leg in Romania last week, but they must complete the job in Istanbul in order to reach the group stage.

Indeed, having twice been pegged back by their Ukrainian opponents at the Superbet Arena in Bucharest, substitute Bakhtiyar Zaynutdinov’s 94th-minute winner sparked jubilant scenes in the Besiktas end to make them major favourites to progress from the tie.

Having finished sixth in the 2021-22 season, which was their lowest finish since 1998, Besiktas improved under Senol Gunes last time out to claim third spot in their domestic table and qualify for Europe as a result.

The two-time Turkey manager, who guided his nation to third place at the 2002 World Cup before lifting back-to-back Turkish Super Lig titles with Besiktas in 2016 and 2017, returned for a second spell at the club last October and has lost just two of his 35 games in charge since doing so.

As such, the 71-year-old and his players will be supremely confident of at least avoiding defeat against Dynamo Kiev on Thursday and reaching the group stage of the Europa Conference League as a result.

Having showed tremendous spirit to come from behind on two separate occasions, with Mykola Shaparenko and Nazar Voloshyn both scoring within five minutes of each other, Besiktas’ late winner would have devastated Dynamo Kiev.

Forced to play on neutral territory in European competitions since the Russian military invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian sides are always up against it at present given that their opponents are not forced into the same disadvantage when facing them.

The Blue & Whites recorded their lowest finish in the Ukrainian Premier League since 2014 when ending in fourth place in the table last season, but they have stuck by Mircea Lucescu as their manager, perhaps in part due to him winning the domestic double in 2021.

The 78-year-old actually managed Besiktas between 2002 and 2004, so he will be desperate to get one over on them in their own stadium on Thursday, and there is no reason why his talented group of players cannot deliver on that front.

Besiktas Europa Conference League form:

Besiktas form (all competitions):

Dynamo Kiev Europa Conference League form:

Dynamo Kiev form (all competitions):

We say: Besiktas 2-1 Dynamo Kiev
While there is little to split these two sides in terms of individual quality, Besiktas do have more strength in depth to call upon from the bench if required, and that could prove crucial during the latter stages of this second leg.

We would not be surprised to see Dynamo Kiev push their opponents incredibly hard, with their sense of spirit in full display last time out, but the Turkish side should just about have enough to advance on their home turf.

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