Gençlerbirligi SK will be seeking to spring another surprise when they meet Valencia CF in the UEFA Cup fourth round.
Gençlerbirligi SK will be seeking to spring another surprise when they meet Spanish giants Valencia CF in the first leg of the UEFA Cup fourth round in Ankara.
The Turkish team have already eliminated Blackburn Rovers FC, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Parma AC, with their 4-0 aggregate demolition of the Serie A side in the last round particularly noteworthy.
Despite his side's impressive record in this competition this season, Gençlerbirligi coach Ersun Yanal is under no illusions that another sizeable challenge awaits. "Valencia are a team which is capable of attacking quickly," said Yanal. "However, our side do not fall short in this respect. We can swiftly get numbers forward and we have pacy players."
Yanal has urged his side's followers to reproduce the vibrant atmosphere of Gençlerbirligi's last home European game. "The fans have to replicate what they did for us at Parma match," he said, having seen his team overwhelm their Italian visitors 3-0 last Wednesday. Yanal cannot call on defender Baki Mercimek due to a shoulder injury, but Nihat Basturk is available again after the midfield player resumed light training following a long-term lay-off.
Striker Souleymane Youla expects Valencia to be tough opponents but believes his side have gained a lot of self-confidence from their European exploits so far this season. "We are all concentrated on the Valencia game," the forward said. "Hopefully, we will defeat them."
The Turkish team's challenge will be not be harmed by the absence of Valencia playmaker Pablo Aimar after the Argentinian midfield player tore his left hamstring during his side’s 3-0 win against RC Deportivo La Coruña at the weekend. Rafael Benítez is also deprived of defender Carlos Marchena, who serves a one-match ban, while Spanish international midfield player Rubén Baraja and striker Mista have both been omitted from the squad for the first leg.
Valencia reached this stage by defeating AIK Solna 2-0 in the first round before securing a 4-0 aggregate success against Maccabi Haifa FC in round two - all the goals coming in the second leg, which was played in the neutral venue of Rotterdam.
The Primera División title contenders eliminated Turkish champions Besiktas JK in the third round, following a narrow 3-2 success in the first leg in Spain with an impressive 2-0 victory in the return. Nevertheless, left-back Amedeo Carboni is wary of underestimating their opponents, who are in mid-table in the Turkish Superleague.
"Gençlerbirligi have eliminated three important teams and that says something about the quality they have throughout the side," said the 38-year-old Italian. "According to our coach, they are a quick team who pressurise opponents and are quite advanced tactically. I think what they have achieved in the competition so far says it all."