By April 25, 2013 1 Comments Read More →

Benfica vs Fenerbahce: Europa League Key Battles


The semifinals of the UEFA Europa League kick off on Thursday with two mouth-watering clashes in Turkey and Switzerland.

The semifinal tie opening in Turkey on Thursday is being played between Fenerbahce and Benfica, who are two perennial competitors on the European scene.

The two clubs will go head-to-head at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul and here are a few key battles to watch in the opening leg of the two-legged tie.

Oscar Cardozo vs. Joseph Yobo and Egemen Korkbaz

Cardozo has been one of the best goal-scorers across in Europe in recent years and there is no doubt that he will face a challenge from the Fenerbahce center-back duo of Yolo and Korkbaz.

Cardozo has scored 27 goals in all competitions this season, including five in the Europa League for Benfica.

If the Paraguay international can get past the Fenerbahce duo, Benfica will be able to score an away goal or two to take back to the Estadio da Luz with them next week.

Pierre Webo vs. Luisao and Ezequiel Garay

Fenerbahce also has a strong goal-scorer in Pierre Webo, who joined the club in January from Istanbul BB.

Webo has scored four goals in six matches for the Turkish giants this season and he was handed a start in the club’s last Europa League match against Lazio on April 11.

Just like Cardozo, Webo will be relied on to get past the powerful defensive duo on the other end of the pitch.

Benfica’s duo of Luisao and Garay have been a formidable pair all season and if Webo can get more than one goal past the pair, it will be considered an impressive outing.

Nemanja Matic & Enzo Perez vs. Raul Meireles & Selcuk Sahin 

Thursday’s match will be won in the midfield and with both clubs lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the defensive midfield duos for both clubs will be the players to keep an eye on for the entire 90 minutes.

Matic is one of the hottest young talents in the world and there is no doubt that his performance on Thursday will be monitored by some of Europe’s big clubs.

Meireles, best known for his days at Liverpool and Chelsea, has had a successful season alongside the 32-year-old Sahin and they will be a tough duo to do battle with on their home pitch.

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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