Check out our analysis, team news, line-ups and see our prediction for this match.
In only their second competitive game of the 2021/22 season Fenerbahçe welcome HJK Helsinki on Thursday to the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium for their first leg Europe League Playoff round tie.
The Turkish giants qualified for this stage of the tournament through their league position, while HJK defeated Neftchi Baku in the preliminary round to book their flight tickets to Istanbul.
Prediction for this match
The excruciating wait for the 20th Turkish championship title continued last season for Fenerbahce, who were close to the top for most of the season before settling for third place behind Besiktas and Galatasaray.
However, Sari Kanaryalar, who has not raised the Super Lig trophy since the 2013-14 season, started the 2021-22 season the way they intended Mesut ÖzilHis first goal in 18 months led his team to a 1-0 win against Adana Demirspor on August 15.
The former Arsenal man received the captain’s armband for that game and donned it confidently to score his first goal for Fenerbahce for the first time since the 2018/19 season.
Vitor Pereira has only held his post for a few weeks, but his side remained unbeaten in seven pre-season games, aiming to relive the glory days of the old days as HJK prepares to travel to an area , on which Fenerbahce has not conceded in the last four Europa League games.
Finnish champions HJK tried to make a name for themselves in the Champions League after scoring 7-1 on aggregate against Buducnost in the first qualifying round, but failed in round two against Scandinavian neighbors Malmö and were eliminated after a 4-3 from defeat on two legs.
With the Europa League safety net, the 30-time Finnish champions could only play a 2-2 draw with Neftchi in their first third-round bout, but they made easy work for the Azerbaijani side at home and stormed to a 3-0 win and makes the dream of the group stage more and more a reality.
Many unsuccessful attempts in the preliminary rounds of the Champions League have gone down in the history books, and only once did HJK manage to reach the group stage of the Europa League, where they entered the 2014-15 season in a group from Torino, Club Brugge and Copenhagen.
The HJK stronghold on the Veikkausliiga is not diminishing either Toni Koskela‘s men took two 1-0 wins against KTP and Mariehamn earlier this month on either side of their win against Neftchi, with the champions sitting pretty high on the pile with 41 points from 16 games.
The Finns can be classified as underdogs in this game, especially since only one of the last four away games has ended in a win, but they travel to Istanbul after unbeaten seven games in all competitions and cannot be written off.
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Fenerbahce have moved to bring on former Premier League players Steven Caulker and Mbwana Samatta in the summer transfer window, the latter is expected to be supported by Özil and Irfan Kahveci.
Serdar Dursun was only taken on for 25 minutes at the weekend, then broke his collarbone and the 29-year-old joins Enner Valencia, Dimitrios Pelkas and Mert Hakan Yandas on the sidelines.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see it Ozan Tufan Return to the center of the park instead of Miha Zajcwhere he will bond with the seasoned Brazilian Luis Gustavo.
HJK playmaker Atomu Tanaka won’t return this season as he’s recovering from a serious knee problem, but is a new signing Tim Sparv is back in the engine room after his 2020 European Championships with Finland.
Roope Riski failed in the weekend win over Mariehamn but the 30-year-old scored a brace in the second leg win against Neftchi and is apparently confident of leading the line.
Finland national team Daniel O’Shaughnessy was ubiquitous in Europe and should come back here, most likely instead of Bubacar Djalo.
Fenerbahce possible starting line-up:
Bayindir; Aziz, Szalai, Tisserand; Osayi-Samuel, Gustavo, Tufan, Novak; Kahveci, Samatta, Özil
HJK Helsinki possible starting line-up:
Tannander; Tenho, Moren, O’Shaughnessy; Saksela, Sparv, Jair, Murillo; Olusanya, Ro. Riski, Browne
Probability: Fenerbahce 2-0 HJK Helsinki
HJK is certainly able to make this a much tighter affair than it would appear on paper, but guests can get tired in the middle of the home season.
Fenerbahce are expected to set up a 3-4-3 system similar to that of their opponents and boast a few other household names. So while HJK will have a tough fight, we still expect Pereira’s men to gain an advantage in the first leg.
Best betting tip for this match
Our expert tipster partners at footpredictions.com forecast less than 3.5 goals in this game. Click here to see more football predictions to see what else they are predicting for this game and for more proven soccer tips.Under 3.5: data