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İstanbul Başakşehir vs Copenhagen Europa League preview: where to watch, team news

İstanbul Başakşehir host Copenhagen in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg – all you need to know.

İstanbul Başakşehir staged a dramatic comeback win against Sporting CP in the last 32
İstanbul Başakşehir staged a dramatic comeback win against Sporting CP in the last 32 AFP via Getty Images

Copenhagen travel to Istanbul in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 on 12 March at 18:55 CET. This page will update with team news, quotes and expert analysis as kick-off approaches.


Where to watch the game on TV

Fans can find their local UEFA Europa League broadcast partner(s) here.

The teams

İstanbul Başakşehir
UEFA ranking: 80
Domestic position: 2
How they got there: Group J winners, 5-4aet Sporting CP
Last season: third qualifying round (lost 1-0 v Burnley)
Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: group stage (2017/18)

Highlights: Istanbul Başakşehir 4-1 Sporting CP

UEFA ranking: 39
Domestic position: 2
How they got there: Group B runners-up, 4-2 Celtic
Last season: group stage (fourth)
Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: round of 16 (2016/17)

Possible line-ups

İstanbul Başakşehir: Mert Günok; Clichy, Epureanu, Škrtel, Junior Caiçara; İrfan Can Kahveci, Aleksić, Mahmut Tekdemir, Višća, Elia; Demba Ba
Misses next game if booked: Clichy, Gulbrandsen, Škrtel

Copenhagen: Johnsson; Varela, Nelsson, Bjelland, Bengtsson; Biel, Stage, Zeca, Falk; Santos, N'Doye
Out: Wind (knee), Boilesen (knee),
Doubtful: Kaufmann (groin), Fischer (unknown)
Misses next game if booked: Santos, Stage

Highlights: Celtic 1-3 Copenhagen

Expert prediction

Görkem Kırgız, İstanbul Başakşehir reporter: Coach Okan Buruk generally favours a 4-4-2 formation, but more recently settled on a compact 4-4-1-1 set-up. While Turkish internationals like Mert, Mahmut and İrfan are expected to start, Başakşehir are free of injuries and have no shortage of great options from the bench: Robinho, Gökhan İnler, Mehmet Topal and Enzo Crivelli.

Sture Sandø, Copenhagen reporter: Copenhagen's season could hinge on these games. Out of the Danish Cup, and well adrift of leaders Midtjylland in the league, Ståle Solbakken's side would be delighted to get an away goal in Istanbul, but more crucial is ensuring they have something to play for in the second leg at Parken, where Copenhagen can trouble even the very biggest sides.

What the coaches say

Okan Buruk, İstanbul Başakşehir coach: "This game is so important. Our goal is to qualify for the quarter-finals. We are the last Turkish team left in European competition, so this round is also important for our country and we are aware of our responsibility. We prepared well and know we are going to be up against a strong team. The best result for us would be a win and clean sheet."

Ståle Solbakken, Copenhagen coach: "We had a very bad game in the league on Sunday [losing 1-0 at home to Horsens]. It was one of the worst matches of my career. We want to make up for it. We can achieve it, we can get back to where we were. This is a historical match for us. If we succeed, we only have one games to the quarter-finals."

Previous meetings

• This is İstanbul Başakşehir's first UEFA competition encounter with a team from Denmark.

• Copenhagen have been paired with Turkish opposition just once previously, losing 3-1 away to Galatasaray and beating them 1-0 at home – both games with current head coach Ståle Solbakken in charge – in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage. Additionally, B1903, one of the clubs that merged to formed Copenhagen in 1992, were 2-1 aggregate winners against Trabzonspor in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup third round.

Five stunning round of 16 goals

Form guide

İstanbul Başakşehir
• This is İstanbul Başakşehir's fifth successive European campaign, their UEFA competition bow having been made in 2015/16. They ensured a return this term by finishing second to Galatasaray in a closely fought 2018/19 Süper Lig title race.

• Two defeats by Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round put İstanbul Başakşehir into the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second time. Their previous campaign, in 2017/18, ended after six matches as their tally of eight points left them in third place behind Braga and Ludogorets.

• This season they finished first in their group despite two heavy defeats to second-placed Roma (0-4 a, 0-3 h). However, they won twice against Wolfsberg and drew 1-1 at home to Mönchengladbach before leapfrogging their German hosts to the Group J summit in a momentous 2-1 win on Matchday 6. Last month's victory over Sporting has put them into the round of 16 for the first time, making this the club's longest European campaign.

• The Istanbul club have won just four of their 14 European home fixtures (D5 L5), scoring 14 goals and conceding the same number. The Matchday 5 reverse against Roma, however, is their only home defeat in the UEFA Europa League proper (W3 D3), while the 4-1 win against Sporting last time out ranks as their biggest at home in European competition.

Highlights: İstanbul Başakşehir 1-0 Wolfsberg

• Copenhagen regained the Superliga crown last term, becoming Danish champions for the third time in four seasons – and 13th in all. They lost on penalties to Crvena zvezda in this season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round but were 3-2 aggregate winners over Latvian champions Riga in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.

• The Danish club's seventh UEFA Europa League group stage participation brought a third qualification, though they managed just five goals in their six games, scoring once in each of the first five – including two 1-0 wins against Lugano and three 1-1 draws – before going down 0-1 on Matchday 6 at home to Malmö.

• The 4-2 aggregate win against Celtic means Copenhagen are through to the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for only the second time. They lost their previous tie at this stage, falling to Ajax in 2016/17 (2-1 h, 0-2 a), and have never gone past the round of 16 in any major European competition.

• Undefeated on their Group B travels in the autumn (W1 D2) and victorious at Celtic Park, Copenhagen have lost just two of their last 14 European away fixtures (W7 D5). Their record on the road in 2019/20 is W3 D3 L1.

Highlights: Lugano 0-1 Copenhagen

Links and trivia 

• N'Doye, Copenhagen's all-time leading goalscorer, spent two and a half seasons in Turkey with Trabzonspor before rejoining Copenhagen in 2018. He scored ten goals in 63 Süper Lig appearances for the Black Sea club.

• N'Doye is a former Senegal team-mate of İstanbul Başakşehir's Demba Ba; they were both in Senegal's 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations squad.

• Copenhagen defender Ragnar Sigurdsson has played six times for Iceland against Turkey, heading both goals in his country's 2-1 home win in a June 2019 UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier.

• İstanbul Başakşehir coach Okan Buruk and his Copenhagen opposite number Solbakken played against each other, both as second-half substitutes, in Norway's 2-0 friendly victory against Turkey in Istanbul on 23 February 2000.

• This is Solbakken's 41st UEFA Europa League game, group stage to final, in charge of Copenhagen – the most in the competition by any head coach with a single club, two more than Unai Emery (Sevilla).

Copenhagen coach Ståle Solbakken
Copenhagen coach Ståle SolbakkenRitzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima

The coaches

• A former midfielder who spent most of his playing career at Galatasaray, with whom he won seven Turkish league titles plus the UEFA Cup/UEFA Super Cup double in 2000, Okan Buruk also helped Turkey to third place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. İstanbul Başakşehir became his seventh club in as many seasons as a coach when he succeeded Beşiktaş-bound Abdullah Avcı in the summer of 2019. His profile had risen considerably a year earlier when he led unheralded Akhisar Belediyespor to Turkish Cup success with a 3-2 final victory against Fenerbahçe.

• Solbakken's second coaching tenure at Copenhagen began in 2013. He has won eight Danish titles in charge of the club – five of those in his first spell from 2006 to 2011 – plus four domestic cups. The former Norway midfielder won 58 caps and scored nine goals for his country, appearing at both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000, before being forced to retire following a heart attack. He also had short spells coaching in Germany (Köln) and England (Wolves) between two lengthy stints in the Danish capital.