Delighted to be playing host to illustrious opponents, Trabzonspor AŞ coach Mustafa Akçay has nonetheless stressed that his team will not sit back and hand the initiative to SS Lazio when they meet in UEFA Europa League Group J.
Both clubs won on matchday one, with Trabzonspor prevailing 2-1 at Apollon Limassol FC and the Biancocelesti defeating Legia Warszawa 1-0. Another victory would put the Black Sea outfit halfway towards the "11 or 12 points" Akçay believes will be sufficient to progress – and to achieve this objective he will instruct his charges to take the game to their visitors from the off.
"Lazio have many top-level, experienced international players," said Akçay. "They're in sixth position in Italy. I look at them with a huge amount of respect and we'll remember this during every minute of the game, but we won't sit back. We want to play in a direct style, but at the same time in a patient manner – we want to find a way to goal."
Akçay, who has overseen four successive wins in all competitions, views the fixture as an ideal test ahead of Sunday's trip to the Süper Lig leaders. "Before our big match at the weekend against Fenerbahçe, this game is doubly important in that it will allow us to show what we're all about," he said. "I believe in my players. The team are in good form and tomorrow we want to continue that."
One member of the Lazio squad knows just how "difficult" a match at the Hüseyin Avni Aker Stadyumu can be. Before moving to Serie A two years ago, Lorik Cana spent a single season in Turkey with Galatasaray AŞ, playing in a 2-0 away loss to Trabzonspor in November 2010.
"Trabzonspor are a traditional team who are always competing for the championship," said the Albania midfielder, who scored once in 24 appearances in the Turkish top flight. "When I was here, playing in Trabzon was always a difficult fixture for us because they're a very strong team."
Cana's thoughts were echoed by his coach Vladimir Petković, who had a disappointing six-month spell in charge of Samsunspor in the 2011/12 campaign. "Legia are a strong side, as are Trabzonspor," said the 50-year-old. "We're favourites for this group but Trabzonspor have a quality squad, enhanced by their foreign players. With the help of their supporters, the match will be a difficult one."
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