Fenerbahçe hosts Olympiacos, Galatasaray visits Marseille in Europa League

Turkish heavyweight Fenerbahçe will resume its Europa League campaign as it hosts Mediterranean rival Olympiacos from neighboring Greece on Thursday.

The two Mediterranean titans meet regularly on basketball courts but will face each other for the first time in a UEFA competition.

The Yellow Canaries are currently top in the Turkish Süper Lig with two back-to-back wins.

The Greeks, on the other hand, are on a run of four consecutive wins in all competitions.

Fenerbahçe drew 1-1 at Eintracht in its opening Europa League Group D match, while Pedro Martins’ Greek champions beat 10-man Royal Antwerp 2-1 in Piraeus.

Fenerbahçe will be with three key players İrfan Can Kahveci, Nazım Sangare and Jose Sosa

In 28 UEFA club competition meetings between the nations’ sides, the Turkish teams are 11-9 up in terms of wins. Fenerbahçe has yet to lose at home to Greek opponents with one win and two draws, according to UEFA’s official website.

Olympiacos, in the meantime, has won two and lost three matches in Turkey, including a 1-0 success at Istanbul Başakşehir in its most recent visit during the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.

The match at Istanbul’s Ülker Stadium will kick off at 7:45 p.m. local time (4:45 p.m. GMT)

Galatasaray players train ahead of their Süper Lig match against Göztepe, Istanbul, Turkey, Sept. 23, 2021. (IHA Photo)

Galatasaray goes to Marseille

The other Turkish side in the Europa League Galatasaray will travel to France to face Olympique Marseille.

Last season’s runner-up Galatasaray is struggling so far, sitting 10th in the Süper Lig. However, a win against Göztepe in the last match will give it some much-needed morale ahead of the Marseille tie.

Its French host, on the other hand, made a brilliant opening to the season, winning three of the first four matches. However, its form has recently dipped with just one win in the last four games in all competitions. Marseille also tasted its first league defeat in a 3-2 home loss to Lens.

In the first Europa League matchday, Lokomotiv Moscow held Marseille to a 1-1 draw.

Meanwhile, Galatasaray will be welcomed by familiar face Cengiz Ünder, Marseille’s Turkish winger.

The Lions picked up a win in their first Europa League game of the season when they beat Serie A’s Lazio 1-0 in Istanbul, thanks to an own goal from goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha.

The match at Orange Velodrome will kick off at 7 p.m. GMT.

Celtic seeks consistency

Scottish giant Celtic has endured a difficult campaign so far despite some sparkling home displays under Ange Postecoglou.

It welcomes Bayern Leverkusen to Parkhead after slipping to a 4-3 loss to Real Betis in its Europa League group-stage opener.

A strong start to the season at home has provided respite, but Celtic was held by Dundee United at the weekend in Glasgow to fall six points behind reigning Scottish Premiership champions Rangers.

A win over Bundesliga side Leverkusen would lift some of the gloom over the Hoops after they were booed off by their own fans Sunday.

Steven Gerrard’s Rangers need a positive result at Sparta Prague to boost its hopes of reaching the knockout stage for the third consecutive season after losing to Lyon.

Sparta knows Scottish sides very well from the 2020/21 group stage when it faced Rangers’ archrival Celtic.

Midfielder David Pavelka remembered fondly: “We beat Celtic 4-1 twice last season.”

Sparta boss Pavel Vrba knows his side could deal Steven Gerrard’s men a serious blow in the Czech Republic.

“If we beat them we will have four points and they will have none. So, we have the chance to really put them in a lot of trouble.”

Lyon plays Brondby at the Groupama Stadium in the other Group A encounter.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad will face Monaco, an in-form West Ham hosts Rapid Vienna and Leicester visits Legia Warsaw, who started its European campaign with a win at Spartak Moscow.

Legia boss Czeslaw Michniewicz was excited about facing the Foxes: “We will face my favorite coach, Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers,” he had said after the group stages draw.