Turkish champion Trabzonspor must win its Champions League playoff second leg against visiting FC Copenhagen on Wednesday to continue its dream of playing in the top European club competition.
Abdullah Avcı’s men, however, are left with the tough task of recovering from a humbling 5-2 defeat against Antalyaspor over the weekend.
They will also have to overcome a one-goal deficit from the first leg. Despite dominating possession and play, Trabzonspor suffered a 2-1 defeat in the Danish capital.
The level of capitulation will worry Avcı with his team, having gone from keeping three clean sheets in a row to conceding seven times in two matches.
In a meeting with the players Monday, Avcı said this kind of result can happen in football, but it was important to learn from them.
He added that they were part of a good team with character and they will come out of this process stronger.
Avcı said the match against Copenhagen will be one of their most critical battles this season.
“I trust this team until the end. The fans believe in you. We will give the necessary fight. There is no confusion in our plans. Let’s focus on our goals.”
“This match is really important to us and with the support of our fans, let’s leave the field by getting what we want,” he said.
The victory will be a first European win for Trabzonspor under Avcı. So far it has three losses and two draws.
In the UEFA Europa Conference League last season, the Black Sea Storms won the third qualifying round in penalties after drawing 3-3 and 1-1 against Norway’s Molde. It was eliminated in the playoffs, after losing 2-1 and 3-0 to eventual winner AS Roma.
While it sits in the eighth position in Turkey’s top flight, Copenhagen is down in the fifth spot in the Danish league after a mixed start to its domestic season.
Coach Jess Thorup has witnessed the defending champion lose three of its opening six matches with each win being followed by a defeat, although it now has two successive victories in all competitions.
On the back of the first-leg win, Copenhagen beat minnow Lyngby, cruising to a 3-0 away win with all three goals coming inside the opening 52 minutes.
Viktor Claesson and Pep Biel have scored five apiece in the league and offer the biggest threat for the away side.
For Wednesday’s match, the Süper Lig champion will be without Marek Hamsik, Edin Visca, Hüseyin Türkmen and Serkan Asan, all out with injuries.
Greek midfielder Anastasios Bakasetas, who scored Trabzonspor’s only goal against Copenhagen in the first leg, is also doubtful for the match with a suspected groin injury.
The match at Trabzon’s Şenol Güneş Sports Complex will kick off at 10 p.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT) and will be officiated by Dutch referee Danny Makkelie.