As they prepare for the start of a new season in the Süper Lig, Turkish outfits begin their first international challenge on Thursday in Europe.
Fenerbahçe will host Czechia’s Slovacko for the UEFA Europa League playoff, while Medipol Başakşehir will travel to Iceland to take on Breidablik in the Europa Conference League play-off round. Konyaspor will be in an away against Vaduz in the Europa Conference League playoffs.
In its first match, Fenerbahçe will count on its home advantage against the Czech side with at least three players missing. Ismail Yüksek, booked for a red card earlier, will skip the game, while Altay Bayındır and Mert Hakan Yandaş, two accomplished members of the Yellow Canaries, have still not recovered from earlier injuries. Ferdi Kadıoğlu and new transfer Joshua King, who recovered from their injuries, may return to the starting 11.
The Istanbul-based team had dropped to the Europa League from the Champions League after a home loss to Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv. Slovacko secured their spot at this stage of the competition by finishing fourth in the Czech First League in 2021-22.
Coach Jorge Jesus cut 10 players from the match against Slovacko, including Nazım Sangare, Irfan Can Kahveci, Serdar Aziz and new signing Joao Pedro due to past injuries. Another new signing Tiago Çukur, as well as Steven Caulker, Max Meyer, Dimitris Pelkas, Marcel Tisserand and Mbwana Samatta were not included in the team.
Luan Peres and Gustavo Henrique will be in the first match for Fenerbahçe against Slovacko. The two new signings are expected to cover for Kim Min-jae and Serdar Aziz, two key players in the defense.
This is Fenerbahçe’s 243rd game in European tournaments, during which it secured 87 wins, 52 draws and suffered 103 losses.
The Yellow Canaries have long been away from the group stage of the Champions League and their hope to break the curse was dashed when they lost to Dynamo Kyiv in the second qualifying round. Turkish and Ukrainian teams played out a goalless draw in the first leg, before a defeat at home in July.
Fenerbahçe defeated HJK in the playoff round of last year’s competition before featuring in Group D alongside Olympiacos, Eintracht Frankfurt and Royal Antwerp, but they finished third in the section, failing to make it to the knockout round. The team finished second in the Süper Lig last season, eight points behind the champions Trabzonspor, and they are preparing for the start of their new domestic campaign against Ümraniyespor on Aug. 8. After a relatively disappointing run last season, it seeks to reinforce its ranks with new signings, from King to Diego Rossi, Emre Mor and Lincoln.
Medipol Başakşehir is newer to European tournaments. In its 39th game, the Istanbul-based outfit will look to improve its record of 10 wins and nine draws. Otherwise, it may add one more to the 19 defeats and 64 goals it conceded. For coach Emre Belözoğlu, it will be the third match he helmed with Başakşehir in Europe. Under Belözoğlu, Başakşehir secured a draw against Maccabi Netanya first, before a 1-0 victory in the second game, which brought it a spot in the playoffs.
Başakşehir, nevertheless, misses Edin Visca, who left for Süper Lig champion Trabzonspor, as its top scorer against European teams with 14 goals. Belözoğlu himself had scored three against European teams with Başakşehir while he was still a player.
Konyaspor will travel to Liechtenstein for its 15th match in European tournaments when it takes on Vaduz. The team has a less impressive record than other Turkish teams, with only three wins in 14 matches in Europe.