MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) tackles the sole Europa League tie from Tuesday night in Turkey.
Fenerbahce v Lokomotiv Moscow | Tuesday 17.00 | BT Sport Europe
Fenerbahce suffered a first loss in 26 matches (W17-D8-L1) earlier this month when going down to a shock 4-2 defeat at Antalyaspor but the Turkish Super Lig leaders can be relied upon to produce the goods on Tuesday night.
Vitor Pereira’s men qualified for the group stages after coming second in Group A alongside Molde, Celtic and Ajax and returned to winning ways at the weekend when dispatching Kasimpasa 3-1 at their Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.
The Yellow Canaries have been beaten just once in front of their home supporters this season – September’s reverse to Molde – and their formidable W14-D5-L1 should stand the Turks in good stead for the return of Europa League action.
Injured pair Lazar Markovic and Abdoulaye Ba are joined on the sidelines by the suspended Diego Ribas but Fenerbahce can still be trusted to take a first leg lead to Russia by overcoming Lokomotiv Moscow this midweek at odds of 7/10 with Paddy Power.
Lokomotiv went into the Russian Premier League’s mid-season break in third and reached the knockout stages after winning Group H, losing just one game in the process.
But coach Igor Cherevchenko has a major headache up front having lost top scoring striker Oumar Niasse to Everton at the end of last month.
Niasse scored four goals in the competition this season and Cherevchenko will now have to call call on 20-year-old striker Aleksey Miranchuk to step up and fill his departed team-mate’s boots.
The Russians also make the journey to Istanbul lacking competitive match practice. The visitors haven’t been in action since December and their lack of sharpness could well come into focus against a Fener side that’s already been involved in 10 fixtures this calendar year.
Fenerbahce v Lokomotiv Moscow – Fenerbahce to win (7/10 Paddy Power)
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