By Kadira Malkoc
Fenerbahçe SK's failure to get a positive result in the Netherlands two weeks ago leaves them facing a tricky task to oust Feyenoord from the UEFA Champions League.
In the driving seat
The UEFA Cup winners won 1-0 in the first leg of the sides' third qualifying round tie at the Feijenoord stadium to give themselves real hope of progress to the first group stage. Fenerbahçe, and more crucially their fans, will make it a difficult night for the Dutch in Istanbul, but having failed to score an away goal in the first leg it is Feyenoord who are in the driving seat.
Much at stake
There is an awful lot riding on the outcome. For one thing, failure would call into question the future of the Turkish side's German coach, Werner Lorant. For another, Fenerbahçe have spent big money on transfers over the past two years and a tilt at the group phase would help considerably with balancing the budget.
Century of matches
There is also the rivalary with city rivals Galatasaray SK. Fenerbahçe have been overshadowed in Europe for so long by Galatasaray that the fans are becoming desperate for success. This is their 100th match in European club competition but their record against Dutch opponents does not augur well: their seven previous ties have produced six defeats.
Fenerbahçe had the privilege of a weekend off to prepare for tonight's encounter, whereas Feyenoord were in action on Saturday. Despite taking the lead twice Bert Van Marwijk's side were held 2-2 at home by Roda JC.
'We are ready'
Goals have been in short supply for Lorant's side so far this season. They did not just fail to score in Holland, but also away to Trabzonspor in the season's opening round, and only scraped a 1-0 home win against Ankaragücü. Yet Lorant remains confident his side can overcome their first-leg deficit. "We are ready and we will play a better football than in the first leg," he said. "I have only one thought on my mind. It is winning the match. We want to overcome the one-goal deficit and make it to the Champions League.
"For me football is definitely not stress or pressure. Football to me is fun that should be enjoyed. If you do your job with happiness then success comes by itself. I have always prepared the team and myself this way and never seen anything as pressure."
The German has promised all-out attack from Fenerbahçe. Lorant is again likely to use Serhat Akin, who made his international debut for Turkey in last week's friendly against Georgia, up front alongside Washington, with Ortega and Haim Revivo instructed to get forward in support as often as possible.
Revivo a doubt
Ali Akdeniz, Ismail Güldüren and Tuncay Sanli have been left out of the squad, while Israel midfield player Haim Revivo is doubtful because of injury. At the back, meanwhile, Mustafa Dogan is likely to be given a man-marking job on Feyenoord striker Pierre van Hooijdonk. "If our coach gives me any task I will do my best to be successful," said the experienced defender, who added: "Our people have great expectations. We are aware of it and we have the strength to beat them."
Dutch to counterattack
As Roda JC demonstrated, Feyenoord's back line is not the most solid, meaning Van Marwijk's men will look to counterattack as often as possible. "We have the confidence of having kept a clean sheet in the first match but our style of play does not allow us to play for a goalless draw," said the coach.
Van Marwijk warned his players to expect a tough night: "I am not happy with the pitch here. It's bumpy and that won't suit my players. It will be hell down here. The Turks have very fanatic supporters and I am sure they will push us back straight from kick-off."
Although the statuesque van Hooijdonk set up the only goal in Rotterdam for Shinji Ono, Ivory Coast international Bonaventure Kalou may again prove the greater threat to Fenerbahçe up front. His speed and mobility caused serious problems in Holland and if his finishing had matched his overall performance, Feyenoord would have a bigger lead now.
Leonardo is out with an ankle injury while Anthony Lurling is a doubt due to a thigh problem. Ramon Van Haaren, meanwhile, remains at his wife's bedside in hospital after she suffered complications during the birth of their child, meaning Tomasz Rzasa will take his place.
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