Turkish champions Fenerbahçe SK are confident of establishing their UEFA Champions League credentials with a win over a depleted PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday. The injury-ravaged Dutch side have a squad of just 19, four of whom are doubtful for the match in Istanbul's Sükrü Saraçoglu stadium, according to PSV coach Guus Hiddink.
By contrast, Fenerbahçe are close to full strength and brimming with belief after an impressive 3-0 Superleague victory against fourth-placed Kayserispor on Saturday. Despite losing their Group E opener 3-1 at AC Milan a fortnight ago, coach Christoph Daum believes the scoreline obscures the quality of his team's performance.
"After our display in Milan, we are showing that the difference between us and the top European clubs is narrowing every day," he said. "Our aim is to qualify second from this group and a win tomorrow will be the start of that."
However, Daum warned that PSV remain a threat despite their injury problems and the loss of key players such as Mark van Bommel and Park Ji-Sung since they finished as 2004/05 Champions League semi-finalists.
"They are a very successful team. They are tactically disciplined and able to play a short passing game. They have wide men who can counterattack and forwards who can constantly create danger," he said, singling out striker Jefferson Farfán as one player "we have to try to control".
Meanwhile, Hiddink admitted he had relatively few selection worries due to the scarcity of his resources. "I don't have a great deal of choice because of the injuries. I'll be trying to field the best team I can, taking into account the injuries and weaknesses," he said.
Brazilian defender Alex (knee) and midfielder Ibrahim Afellay (groin) are both doubtful, with a decision on their fitness to be made on the eve of the game. PSV have brought in Nathan Coe as third goalkeeper because of the groin injury to No1 Heurelho Gomes, but Hiddink expects the Brazilian to play.
By contrast, Daum has only one casualty, although it is a major one - Tuncay Şanli, whose attacking runs down the left provide such impetus to the Fenerbahçe attack. He limped off with a thigh problem against Kayserispor. "Tuncay is a problem but it's one that I think will be compensated for. Make no mistake, he is a very important player who will be missed, but I am confident the player who takes his place will do his best," Daum said.
Fenerbahçe on the rise
The Brazilian Márcio Nobre should be the beneficiary, and in physical presence and experience he makes up for what he lacks in pace. Hiddink, looking around the recently rebuilt Sükrü Saraçoglu stadium, said Fenerbahçe barely resembled the club he briefly coached in 1990. "By the look of things the budget for players has changed too," he added.
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