Fenerbahçe SK's Lugano is under no illusions as to what it will take to stop Luis Fabiano and Frédéric Kanouté scoring when Sevilla FC visit this evening.
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No strike force has been more potent in the UEFA Champions League this season than the Sevilla FC duo of Luis Fabiano and Frédéric Kanouté – and Fenerbahçe SK defender Lugano is under no illusions as to what it will take to stop them when the Spanish side visit Istanbul on Wednesday.
Sevilla's forward pair scored four times each in the group stage to add to a combined total of four in qualifying and 26 in the Primera División. That gives Lugano and his team-mates a tricky task if they are to avoid conceding an away goal in the first leg of their last-16 tie. "At this stage of the Champions League, you have to expect opponents to have dangerous forwards," Lugano said. "It would make no sense to expect a striker who is easy to deal with. I know Luis Fabiano very well, while Frédéric Kanouté's quality is beyond question. What we have to do is play positive football, both individually and as a team, to get the right result."
Fenerbahçe showed they could do that on Matchday 1, when FC Internazionale Milano came to town. Lugano and centre-back partner Edu shut out Zlatan Ibrahimović and company while the home attackers piled on the pressure for a 1-0 win – notably, no team, until Liverpool FC on Tuesday, had beaten the Italian champions since then. Fenerbahçe eventually registered maximum points at home to get past the group stage for the first time, and Lugano argues that the atmosphere at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium is hard for visitors to deal with.
"It is almost as if our fans are playing alongside us," the 27-year-old Uruguayan international said. "That dramatically increases your motivation. That's the difference Fenerbahçe supporters make. My friends who play in leading European leagues phone me to praise our fans and tell me how impressed they are. They will fill the stadium and support us until the end."
Lugano, who won the 2005 Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup with São Paulo FC a year before moving to Istanbul, does have one personal concern – a booking on Wednesday would leave him suspended for the second leg, after he had also been banned on Matchday 4. "Perhaps I get too worked up," he admitted. "Maybe I talk too much and make mistakes on the pitch. That is why I get booked so often."