Preview: Fenerbahce vs. Sevilla
Sevilla head into the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with Fenerbahce holding a commanding advantage from the first fixture.
The Spanish outfit ran out 2-0 victors on familiar territory to leave their Turkish hosts up against it at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Thursday evening.
With Sevilla having lost three matches in succession ahead of the first leg, Fenerbahce would have been confident of adding to the woes of the serial winners of this competition.
For 56 minutes, the visitors would have been satisfied with their efforts at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, but goals from Joan Jordan and Erik Lamela changed the course of the tie in Sevilla’s favour.
Like in the previous round versus PSV Eindhoven, Sevilla showed their capabilities on the continental scene, arguably rendering their dismal domestic efforts as meaningless as they continue to show signs that they can again lift this trophy.
Guaranteeing their La Liga status is far more important, however, and Jorge Sampaoli would have been a relieved man as Sevilla came from behind to beat relegation rivals Almeria by a 2-1 scoreline.
Sevilla went into that contest at the weekend level on points with opponents who now sit in 19th spot, highlighting the position that Sampaoli’s team would have found themselves in should they have succumbed to defeat.
For the second game in succession, Lamela came off the substitutes’ bench to net an important goal, the Argentine playmaker now having six strikes for the campaign.
From Fenerbahce’s perspective, their domestic schedule has been heavily disrupted courtesy of the devastating earthquakes which hit Turkey at the start of February.
Jorge Jesus’s side have played just two league fixtures since then, and they were not in action at the weekend as Sevilla worked hard to collect a valuable three points.
Before losing last Thursday, Fenerbahce had gone seven matches without defeat, recording six wins and 18 goals in the process.
Fenerbahce Europa League form:
Fenerbahce form (all competitions):
Sevilla Europa League form:
Sevilla form (all competitions):
We say: Fenerbahce 1-1 Sevilla (Sevilla to win 3-1 on aggregate)
Given Sevilla’s away form this campaign, progression to the next round is unlikely to be a formality. Nevertheless, we would be surprised if the visitors do not score in Turkey, with a competitive draw the most likely outcome in our eyes.