Fenerbahçe will host Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv on Wednesday in a must-win tie to continue its dream of competing in the UEFA Champions League.
Looking to play in the top-tier European championship for the first time in 15 years, the Istanbul giant will crash out of the qualifying race without a win, after the first-leg match against Kyiv ended in a goalless stalemate.
The first leg was held in Lodz, Poland, due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. The return leg will be played at Istanbul’s Ülker Stadium.
The match will kick off at 8 p.m. (5 p.m. GMT) and will be officiated by Italian referee Massimiliano Irrati.
This will be the Yellow Canaries’ second match under newly appointed coach Jorge Jesus of Portugal and they will be looking forward to secure their spot in the next qualifying round.
However, Fenerbahçe will have to do so without the assistance of Serdar Aziz, who picked up an injury in the last match.
The absence of Aziz will exacerbate Fenerbahçe’s woes in the defense, leaving the club without a genuine central defender, after it was already forced to leave out South Korean defender Kim Min-jae.
He was not included in the squad for the Dynamo Kyiv matches due to ongoing transfer negotiations with a number of European clubs, including Rennes and Napoli.
Defensive midfielders Willian Arao and Filip Novak might be considered as makeshift defenders to join Fenerbahçe’s back four alongside Marcel Tisserand and Attila Szalai.
The Istanbul giant might also be without injured Nazım Sangare, Luiz Gustavo, Mauricio Lemos, Max Meyer, Mbwana Samatta and Steven Caulker.
In case of a draw, the match will go into extra time, followed by a penalty shootout, if need be.
If Fenerbahçe wins the second leg against Kyiv, it will face Austria’s Sturm Graz in the Champions League third qualifying round.
However, in case of a defeat, it will take on Czech Republic’s Slovacko in the Europa League third qualifying round, as per draws held in Nyon, Switzerland last week.
A Champions League third qualifying or playoff round exit will guarantee Fenerbahçe a place in the Europa League group stages.
The Istanbul-based team also has the likelihood of ending up in the third-tier Europa Conference League, if it is eliminated in the Europa League third qualifying round. It will in that case move to the UEFA Conference League playoffs round.
The first legs of the Champions League third qualifying round will be played on Aug. 2-3 and the return legs will be on Aug. 9.
The two legs of the Europa League third qualifying round are scheduled for Aug. 4 and Aug. 11.
Fenerbahçe Likely Starting XI:
Altay Bayındır, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Marcel Tisserand, Attila Szalai, Ferdi Kadıoğlu, Willian Arao, İsmail Yüksek, İrfan Can Kahveci, Diego Rossi, Joshua King, Enner Valencia.