RACHEL – Eagles seek to maintain status quo with repeat win over Brugge

Eagles seek to maintain status quo with repeat win over BruggeThe tables will have turned on BeIiktaI when it takes to the field against Club Brugge for the first leg in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 on Thursday evening: BeIiktaI will have the upper hand this time, historically speaking. The Black Eagles of Istanbul eliminated Liverpool to get into this round, and in doing so had to bury the ghosts of the heaviest UEFA defeat in history at the hands of the Premier League powerhouse.

No one could have predicted the dramatic win on penalties by BeIiktaI -– the first-ever Europa League shootout to be won with a perfect five-out-of-five showing by the winner Next opponent Club Brugge has met BeIiktaI just once before. In 2006 the Belgian side lost to BeIiktaI 2-1 in the UEFA Cup.

The Black Eagles will be wary of Club Brugge trying to exact revenge in the same way they did against Liverpool. As usual, Slaven Bilic’s BeIiktaI squad is not fighting at full power Injuries to a few key players, including Argentine midfielder Jose Sosa, Canada defender Atiba Hutchinson, Sweden defender Alexander Milosevic and Turkey defender Ismail KybaII may leave their mark on the Eagles.

First-string goalie Tolga Zengin is still doubtful in the wake of a long-term knee injury, which leaves the goal susceptible to attack. What BeIiktaI can count on is talismanic Senegal forward Demba Ba, without whom BeIiktaI suffers in every aspect of play.

He is in good health. Bring on Brugge A good striker is an absolute must against solid Brugge, which has an excellent defensive record in its 12-match Europa League campaign this season.

The Belgian side has not yet lost and has conceded just three goals in the past eight matches. Delving deeper into the past proves less positive for Brugge’s outlook, though.

The Belgians have not aanced into the later stages of the UEFA competition since 1991-92, while BeIiktaI made the round of 16 as recently as 2012. Club Brugge is not fighting full force, either Key midfielder Victor Vazquez is an important absentee for the Belgians, as are defender Bjrn Engels, midfielder Sander Coopman and doubtful forwards Felipe Gedoz and Obbi Oularandeacute.

But like the Eagles, Brugge retains its top scorer in Lior Refaelov, who scored once in Brugge’s aggregate 6-1 win over Aalborg BK last round, Oularandeacute scored twice, making him a serious danger to the Eagles if he recovers in time for the match. Ex-coach of both clubs, German Christoph Daum, told media that he was expecting a victory for mentally prepared Brugge in Belgium, but noted it “might not be enough,” due to the 70,000 plus fans that would await the club for its return leg at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

“Slaven Bilic is doing great things at BeIiktaI. The players are balanced and organized.

They have great forwards like Demba Ba,” he added. The Eagles are already in a good place, having narrowly defeated Sivasspor and watched Galatasaray go down to Fenerbahe last weekend.

That puts them in a two-way Super League leadership position with Galatasaray. They are likely to be tired with their tight schedule, but Bilic assured that this would not stand in their way.

“We are going to be ready for our Thursday match with Brugge. Liverpool is behind us now and we are in an important place in the club’s history,” he said after defeating Sivasspor The Black Eagles are liable to get a big head over the Liverpool upset, but that will not help them aance past the Belgians.

On paper, it looks like an easier draw, but Brugge is also looking for revenge and an important place in club history. The match kicks off at 8 pm Turkish time at Jan Breydel Stadium in Belgium, which has taken extra security precautions after labeling the match “high risk.

” UEFA has appointed Scottish referee Craig Alexander Thomson, aided by Francis Connor and David McGeachie on the sidelines. Other Europa matches Zenith vs.

Torino Dnipro vs. Ajax Wolfsburg vs.

Inter Everton vs. Dynamo Kyiv Villareal vs.

Sevilla Napoli vs. Dinamo Moscow Fiorentina vs.

Rom.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman