Fenebahce and Benfica Europa Semi-Final
Fenerbahce v Benfica is one half of the semi final line up for this season’s UEFA Europa League. The two clubs will come together for the first time after a very long span of almost 40 years without having faced each other. 38 years ago the two sides met in their only other two-legged meeting in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup first round. On that occasion there was a very comprehensive result, with Portuguese side Benfica running out 7-1 winners. The Turkish outfit will be hoping to avoid the same fate, as the two go head to head again with the goal of booking a spot in the final against either Chelsea or FC Basel.
The Turkish side have never been to a European final before, and in holding off Lazio in the quarter finals, they broke new ground in getting to their first major semi final. The Turkish outfit took a 3-1 aggregate win over the Italian side, Caner Erkin’s second half strike earning a draw at the Stadio Olimpico in the second leg. So they moved through to the semi finals of a European competition at their third attempt after failing in their only other two European quarter final appearances. Fenerbahce are on the brink of setting a competition record after going unbeaten in six away matches in the tournament. They will have seen the progress of Benfica though, a very entertaining and classy side and know that home advantage is going to be all important. Keeping the Portuguese off the scoresheet it going to be crucial and Fenerbahce hold a W2 D0 L1 record at home against Portuguese sides. They are unbeaten in their six European matches played in 2013, but the goal scoring has been low, averaging just a goal per game. That could be the costly factor for the Turks.
The Portuguese outfit have never won a match in Turkey, holding a W0 D2 L1 record from their three previous visits. The first leg of this semi final will be the first time that they have played in Istanbul. They are a very powerful outfit though and will be favourites to get through this tie. Since they joined up with this season’s UEFA Europa League after dropping out of the Champions League group stage, they have won five of their six games on the way to the semi’s. Benfica looked comfortable enough in their semi final against the Premier League’s Newcastle, a 3-1 win at home in the first leg really doing all the damage. They look a very well balanced and composed side and came through the second leg away in England without too much stress. They play a very fluid and exciting game of football and have big threat in front of goal with Oscar Cardozo. They will likely be the ones pressing the hardest and if they hold their own in Istanbul, their home form would most likely carry them through.
Head to Head
The previous meetings came back in 1975 and Benfica thumped Fenerbahce 7-0 in Lisbon and then lost 1-0 in the return leg.