UEL: Skënderbeu Korçë – Beşiktaş JK

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Updated: September 17, 2015

UEFA Europa League
Skënderbeu Korçë (ALB) – Beşiktaş JK (TUR)
Location: Elbasan Arena, Elbasan
Referee: Tomás Bognár (HUN)
Date: Thursday, September 17th
Time: 22:05 (GMT+2)
Channel: Tivibu
Matchday 1


Beşiktaş travel to Albania on matchday one of their UEFA Europa League Group H fixtures. The Black Eagles take on the Albanian champions of the past five straight years, Skënderbeu Korçë, who make their group stage debut in the Europa League.

Skënderbeu reached the group stages of the Europa League by getting knocked out at the play-off qualifier stage of the UEFA Champions League this summer by Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, 6-2 on aggregate (1-2 and 4-1). After having knocked out Milsami of Moldova (4-0 on aggregate (2-0 and 2-0)) and Crusaders of Northern Ireland (6-4 on aggregate (4-1 and 2-3)) respectively in the previous two qualifying rounds.

Hamdi Salihi

Hamdi Salihi (31) has hit the ground running since joining Skënderbeu this summer from Hapoel Haifa.

Striker Hamdi Salihi is probably their most dangerous player, he scored five goals in five appearances in the UCL qualifiers. The Albanian international also has 10 goals in 48 appearances for his country.

Beşiktaş will have to do without two key players who are currently both in form, Oğuzhan Özyakup has a minor injury and did not travel with the team to Albania while Olcay Şahan is still serving a suspension after his direct red card last season against Club Brugge in the round of 16 of the Europa League. Ricardo Quaresma and Necip Uysal are expected to replace Olcay and Ozzie while the rest of the starting eleven will look very similar to this past weekend’s first eleven.

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Mario Gómez got his first two goals for the Black Eagles this weekend as they saw off Medipol Başakşehir 2-0 at the Atatürk Olimpiyat stadium.

After his brace on the weekend, Mario Gómez seems to be finding his form and fitting well in to the team. The German international is expected to start tonight ahead of Cenk Tosun, who has scored four goals in just three Spor Toto Süper Lig appearances.

Quaresma is expected to start on the left wing while Gökhan Töre will likely start on the right, although both players will frequently switch sides to confuse the opposition. José Ernesto Sosa will start behind the striker while Necip Uysal is expected to start next to Atiba Hutchinson in the heart of midfield.

 It is also possible that Şenol Güneş will opt for some rotation in the team; Cenk Tosun, Kerim Frei and Serdar Kurtuluş may start the game instead of Gökhan Töre, Andreas Beck and Mario Gómez.

Beşiktaş predicted XI:

Tolga Zengin; Andreas Beck (Serdar Kurtuluş) – Luiz Rhodolfo – Ersan Adem Gülüm – Dusko Tosic; Atiba Hutchinson – Necip Uysal – José Ernesto Sosa; Ricardo Quaresma – Gökhan Töre (Kerim Frei) – Mario Gómez (Cenk Tosun)

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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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