Fenerbahce to cool red-hot Benfica with 9/4 draw in Istanbul
Fenerbahce’s Europa League semi final meeting with Benfica will evoke memories of the famous 7-0 victory that the Portuguese side secured on the clubs’ last meeting in continental competition back in 1975. In that particular two-legged affair Fener later restored pride with a victory in Turkey, but given their record at home in Europe this term it’s more likely that a draw will be the outcome – Coral go 9/4 about a first leg tie.
Benfica come into this semi final on a red hot run of 13 wins in 14 fixtures and the Eagles haven’t lost since October, an intimidating streak of form that was not lost on former Newcastle and Inter Milan midfielder Emre Belozoglu, who described the Lisbon oufit as “the most difficult side we could have been paired with,” to UEFA.com.
However, the sole blot on that recent sequence was an away draw at Newcastle and in isolation Benfica’s away form on the continent makes for more sober reading, with just two victories in six games this season. Nonetheless the fact remains that only one of those winless away matches was a defeat,
Given Benfica have won 15 of their last 16 at Estadio Luz it’s imperative that Fenerbahce earn themselves and advantage in Istanbul, but for all those stereotypes about the intimidating nature of Turkish crowds, visiting sides have found Aykut Kocoman’s side obliging enough hosts. Fener have allowed five of their eight international guests to leave with at least a draw.
With feared striker Oscar Cardozo in and out of the starting line-up over the last three games his goal-scoring thread has been taken up Benfica’s by Argentinian winger Eduardo Salvio, who has notched in each of his last three starts – Coral go 2/1 about him scoring at any time in Istanbul and 7/1 about him notching the first or last goal.
Memories of the famous rout may hang in the air, but a low scoring encounter is more likely in prospect – four of Benfica’s last six European away games have limboed the 2.5 goals bar. With the hosts last three Europa League home games also delivering less than 2.5 goals, unders can be backed at 7/10.