"We have great respect for them but they are not unbeatable," said S.S. Lazio coach Vladimir Petković as he pondered a UEFA Europa League last-eight tie with Fenerbahçe SK.
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The prospect of an empty stadium in Rome for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final against S.S. Lazio has encouraged Fenerbahçe SK, but their record on Italian soil may be a concern.
Dirk Kuyt, Fenerbahçe forward
It was exciting to watch the draw. There were a lot of good teams left. I watched it with my team-mates Raul Meireles and Pierre Webó at our training base. I think Lazio are a very good team but we're looking forward to playing them. If we can give 100% on the field, we have a chance to beat them. I think the atmosphere will be great for the first match. That will be a big help, before we finish it off the following week in Rome.
Pierre Webó, Fenerbahçe forward
[Lazio are] a really good team. I see our chances as 50-50. I have never played against Lazio in my career but I know some of their players. Our technical staff will give us the required information about them. The second leg in Rome will be played behind closed doors so this gives us a slight advantage.
İsmail Kartal, Fenerbahçe assistant coach
First we topped our group, then we reached this stage after beating two teams who were leaders of their domestic leagues [BATE and Plzeň]. Lazio have great pedigree but we are in the quarter-finals now. We have to use our home advantage in the first leg. This is the first advantage. As the second match in Italy will be played behind closed doors, that is a second advantage. We shouldn't forget that Lazio are coached by Vladimir Petković who was formerly with Samsunspor in Turkey. Raul Meireles returns from suspension and that will be a boost too.
Vladimir Petković, Lazio coach
They are very good, especially at home. Turkish sides don't usually shine when they play away, however. We have great respect for them but they are not unbeatable. They have big names in their squad, players with a lot of experience at international level like Reto Ziegler and Miloš Krasić. I have faced them three times already, once with Young Boys in a Champions League qualifier [in 2010]: 2-2 at home and we won 1-0 away. Their fans showed great sportsmanship and clapped us after the game. They have a fantastic stadium.
The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.
Fenerbahçe have played 13 games against Italian teams with the record W3 D0 L10 (W3 D0 L4 at home – W0 D0 L6 in Italy). They have won their last two home matches against Serie A opposition without conceding, yet have lost all their previous fixtures in Italy by margins of two goals or more.
Lazio's statistics in eight games against Turkish clubs read W6 D1 L1 (W3 D1 L0 at home – W3 D0 L1 in Turkey).
UEFA Cup runners-up in 1997/98, Lazio last reached the quarter-finals of a European competition in 2002/03 when they beat Fenerbahçe's neighbours Beşiktaş JK en route to a UEFA Cup semi-final exit at the hands of FC Porto.
Fenerbahçe are contesting the quarter-finals of this tournament for the first time – and have now appeared in the last eight of all three major UEFA club competitions. They lost to MTK Budapest in a replay in the 1963/64 European Cup Winners' Cup, then bowed out to Chelsea in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League. They have yet to play a semi-final.