13 February 2019
The Europa League knockout stage action starts at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium as a struggling Fenerbahce side welcome Zenit St. Petersburg.
Currently going through the most severe crisis in their recent history, the hosts are still fighting to avoid relegation in the Turkish Super Lig. Recently appointed as Phillip Cocu’s heir, Ersun Yanal will try to mitigate Fenerbahce’s disaster by helping his team reach the EL last-16. However, the Yellow Canaries’ form in their last six competitive outings (W2, D1, L3) suggests it will be everything but simple, especially considering Fenerbahce’s defensive displays. Unable to keep a clean slate, the Turkish giants have conceded in seven of their previous nine games across all competitions, allowing over 1.5 goals per match three times in the sequence. The only thing that can comfort Yanal is that his players won five of their last nine competitive home clashes (W5, D3, L1), scoring 2+ match goals six times in the process.
On the other hand, it is going to be the first competitive match in 2019 for the visitors as they come into this meeting straight from the preparation period. The Russian heavyweights would like to start the new year off on the right foot after closing the last year with a frustrating three-game losing streak across all competitions. Much more comfortable at home, the Blue-White-Sky Blues have pulled off just one triumph on their last eight competitive road trips, suffering six defeats in the process. In that sequence, Sergei Semak’s players have managed barely one clean sheet, conceding 2+ goals per match five times. Another problem for Zenit could be the fact they’ve scored over 1.5 goals per match only once in their previous ten away clashes, failing to hit the back of the net on three occasions along the way.
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