Turkish giants Fenerbahce will welcome Lazio to town on Thursday when they clash in the quarterfinals of the Europa League with a shot at European glory on the line.
Fenerbahce will carry a huge home-ground advantage heading into the first leg given how difficult it can be to play away in Turkey, but will know that their opponents are more than capable of pulling a surprise here given their attacking talent and versatility.
Lazio have been very strong through the domestic and European competitions thus far and will look to churn out a strong performance to give them an advantage heading back to Italy next week.
Who will emerge victorious from this Europa League quarterfinal? Read on for a full preview including all the details, viewing information and predictions.
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Start time: 3:05 p.m. ET (8:05 p.m. GMT)
Venue: Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
Live Stream and Viewing Information
Fox Soccer 2Go will provide coverage and a live stream of the match.
2012-13 Europa League so Far
Note: Lazio also played a qualifying tie against Mura. They won that 5-1 on aggregate, winning 2-0 away from home and 3-1 in the second leg at home.
W4, D1, L1
(10 goals for, seven against)
W3, D3, L0
(Nine goals for, two against)
W1, D1, L0 vs. BATE Borisov
(One goal for, zero against)
|Round of 32|
W1, D1, L0 vs. Borussia M'bach
(Five goals for, three against)
W1, D1, L0 vs. Viktoria Plzen
(Two goals for, one against)
|Round of 16|
W2, D0, L0 vs. VfB Stuttgart
(Five goals for, one against)
Key Player to Watch: Hernanes, Lazio
With a number of key stars to watch in this one, Lazio midfielder Hernanes has the potential to have a profound impact and be the biggest name of all.
The Brazilian has netted eight goals and seven assists for Lazio this year, but has shown great skill on the counterattack throughout the season. And away from home, where Lazio will likely try and gain an away-goal advantage, look for Hernanes to come to the fore a great deal here.
Hernanes ranks in the top two for both shots on goal and goal-scoring chances created per game this year, and has shown an excellent combination with Antonio Candreva and Miroslav Klose throughout.
Look for the 27-year-old to give Lazio plenty of attacking opportunities on the night against a very strong Fenerbahce defense, and for that to perhaps even create a shock goal for the away side.
Three Stats to Consider
19. Lazio are the leading goal-scorers in the competition this year having scored 19 goals so far. Interestingly, they've also scored nine goals in their past three away games in the Europa League.
0. Lazio have not been beaten in the Europa League so far this year, holding both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Tottenham Hotspur to draws away from home.
2. Fenerbahce have conceded two goals in their past eight Europa League games.
All statistics provided via WhoScored.com
Playing away in Turkey is certainly not an easy thing to do in world football, and Lazio won't exactly find it easy against Fenerbahce in this one. However, there's a reason why this team is yet to be beaten in the competition this year, and they'll show that with their defense here.
The Italians will know that a draw here is a great result heading back to Italy next week, and that even a one goal deficit can be erased at the Stadio Olimpico.
Expect them to set up strong across the back here and try and dominate possession—frustrating their opponents who will be looking to gain an advantage. And whilst Fenerbahce to have a number of good attacking options, they won't be able to break down the Italians here.
I'd say Lazio have some early chances to score but fail to capitalize—spending the remainder of the match preserving their clean sheet as they await the second leg. Which, given it's in Italy, will give them a huge advantage to move through to the Europa League semifinals.
Prediction: Fenerbahce 0, Lazio 0
Hit me up on Twitter for more sports goodness: Follow @dantalintyre
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!