UEL: Beşiktaş JK – Skënderbeu Korçë

Updated: November 25, 2015

UEFA Europa League
Beşiktaş JK (TUR) – Skënderbeu Korçë (ALB)
Location: Atatürk Olimpiyat, Istanbul
Referee: Pawel Gil (POL)
Date: Thursday, November 26th
Time: 20:00 (GMT+2)
Channel: Tivibu (link)
Matchday 5

After three straight draws in the UEFA Europa League group stage, Beşiktaş are looking for their second win after they had already beaten their current opponents Skënderbeu Korçë with the narrowest of differences on matchday 1 at the Elbasan Arena thanks to a José Sosa goal.

Quaresma's beauty only proved enough for a point against lokomotiv, giving the advantage to Sporting in the race for qualifcation to the next round.

Quaresma’s beauty only proved enough for a point against Lokomotiv, giving the advantage to Sporting in the race for qualifcation to the next round.

So far Group H has proven to be a tight group with evenly matched sides. Because Beşiktaş failed to beat Lokomotiv Moscow in Istanbul during the early match on matchday 4, despite Ricardo Quaresma scoring a beautiful goal to open the scoring early int he second half, it seemed likely the Black Eagles had squandered their chances at qualification when Oumar Niasse evened the scores for Lokomotiv 15 minutes before fulltime. Despite some late pressure and a huge chance for Ersan Gülüm in added time, the Black Eagles could not find that second goal and the advantage was to Sporting, who could put themselves in pole position for qualifcation with a – what would seem simple – victory at the Elbasan Arena, given that Sporting had already beaten Skënderbeu once in this group on the previous matchday with a no nonsense 5-1 scoreline at the Estádio José Alvaladé in Lisbon.

Skënderbeu decided differently however and did the Eagles a huge favour by beating that other team in the group on matchday 4, Sporting CP. And not with a small margin either as the Albanians got an impressive 3-0 victory over the Portuguese league leaders thanks to a brace from Sabien Lilaj and a goal from Bakary Nimaga. An impressive feat regardless of the Portuguese side going down to 10 men early on in the first half when goalkeeper Rui “San” Patricio made a penalty foul and got a direct red card.

This surprising victory by the Albanian champions kept Beşiktaş two points ahead of Sporting in second place, while Lokomotiv now have 8 points and are already certain of qualification to the next round. So a second chance for the Black Eagles, if they defeat Skënderbeu in Istanbul and Sporting don’t get all 3 points in Moscow then the Eagles qualify for the next round and can travel to Lisbon on matchday 6 with a B squad in order to rest some players for the crucial derby with Galatasaray that same week.

Sabien Lilaj celebrating one of his two goals against Sporting on matchday 4.

Sabien Lilaj set in motion a different scenario however when he opened the score against Sporting later that evening in what would end up being a stunning 3-0 victory over Sporting, advantage Beşiktaş once again.

Despite the importance of a victory in this match, Beşiktaş head coach Şenol Güneş may chose to opt for some rotation as he may want to rest some of his players such as Mario Gómez, Andreas Beck and Atiba Hutchinson, who have all played the bulk of matches so far this season.

This means we may see the likes of Cenk Tosun, Necip Uysal and Serdar Kurtuluş start this match.

Beşiktaş have gone 14 games without a defeat and have scored atleast one goal in every single one of their 16 official games under Şenol Güneş this season. Beşiktaş are currently the lone league leaders in the Turkish Süper Lig, being two points clear at the top with 29 points out of a possible 36, scoring an impressive 30 goals while conceding 12. In the Europa League however the Black Eagles have only 6 points from a possible 12 and scored only 4 goals, conceding 3 but remain undefeated.

Skënderbeu Korçë got their first points in the Europa League on the previous matchday and still hold a slim chance of qualification, they will need to get the maximum points from their last two games however, meaning a win in Istanbul and a home win against Lokomotiv Moscow.

The Albanian champions are currently in a dissapointing second position in the Albanian Superliga, 4 points behind leaders Partizani Tirana after suffering two defeats in their last 5 league games, one away against Partizani (2-1) and one last week, again away from home at Kukësi (2-1). But their stunt on matchday 4 in the UEFA Europa League Group H will surely give them newfound confidence going in to this game.

Beşiktaş predicted XI:

Tolga Zengin; Serdar – Rhodolfo – Ersan – Ismail; Necip – Atiba Hutchinson – Oguzhan; Quaresma – Olcay – 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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