First knockout round – first leg
Fenerbahce will hope to repeat the home wins against Internazionale, PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moscow when they entertain Sevilla tonight. The Spanish outfit topped Group H in their first Champions League campaign and as back-to-back winners of the UEFA Cup they will present a stiff challenge to Fener.
Nonetheless, home coach Zico is bullish. “I am not afraid of Sevilla,” he stated. “If I was afraid of them, I would stay at home.”
“They might not be famous like Manchester United or Milan but they deserve the utmost respect from us. We will respect them but will also fight until the end. It’s obvious that they are a high-quality team. So are we. Of course we should be the team doing the attacking,” Zico said. “Our fans expect it.”
Zico intends to field the same side that won 4-2 at Rizespor on Friday, even though absent forward Semih Senturk has recovered from a knee problem.
Since Manuel Jimenez succeeded Juande Ramos as coach after Matchday 3, Sevilla have maintained a perfect record in this competition while also hitting domestic form to rise to sixth place in the Primera Division.
Jimenez will be without injured defender Javi Navarro and striker Ernesto Chevantón, and will delay naminghis starting line-up until shortly before kick-off.
“We will try to hold up the ball and try to exploit any Fenerbahçe errors,” Jiménez said. “Both teams are better playing down the flanks but the pitch seems extremely wet. Both sides will have to deal with it.”
“Fenerbahçe beat the champions of Italy, of the Netherlands and of Russia at home,” he said. “That’s not a surprise. Their presence in the knockout rounds is not a coincidence.”
“Our team like to play attacking football and you can’t easily change the style the players are accustomed to. But we may be a little bit more cautious because we are playing away. In two-legged games, it is important to return home without conceding.”