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Bilic looks to end visitors´ unbeaten record

Slaven Bilic

Club Brugge travel to Besiktas in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday knowing that another game without defeat in this season's competition will see them into the quarter-finals.

Michel Preud'homme's men maintained their unbeaten run in the tournament with a 2-1 first-leg win at the Jan Breydelstadion last week, Tom De Sutter and Lior Rafaelov cancelling out Gokhan Tore's opener.

It leaves Besiktas needing to achieve what no side has managed in the Europa League this term, although their unbeaten home record in European competition this season will instil confidence of gaining the win required.

The Turkish Super Lig leaders face Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce on Sunday and warmed up for Thursday's clash in style, hammering Kayseri Erciyespor 5-1 at the weekend.

"Despite a tiresome Europa League match we played on Thursday, my players were energetic and lively," Bilic explained.

"This shows how much they've wanted to be at the top of the Super Lig table. We controlled the game from the start and deserved the victory.

"Now, we must get ready for our upcoming matches against Club Brugge and Fenerbahce."

The former Croatia coach has fitness doubts over Cenk Tosun and Tolga Zengin, while Sander Coopman (thigh), Bjorn Engels (knee) and Victor Vazquez (ankle) are set to miss out for Preud'homme's side.

Brugge will hope to prove party poopers during the clash, which takes place on Besiktas' 112th anniversary, although they too face an important domestic test in the immediate aftermath.

A Beker van Belgie final date against Anderlecht waits on Sunday at the Stade Roi Baudouin, but Preud'homme is maintaining his focus on Thursday's clash.

"I have more hope than I did for the first leg," he told.

"In front of a home crowd Besiktas will be more motivated, it may be hell there. Last week we found a good solution. If we can repeat that, why not?

"Besiktas have problems with set pieces. Corners and free-kicks can be our weapon. Even with battles and long balls, the defenders of Besiktas had problems."

While Brugge are already in unchartered territory, having failed to reach the last 16 since the creation of group stages in the competition, Besiktas are looking to emulate their efforts of 2002-03.

In the UEFA Cup, the Turkish club reached the quarter-finals that year before losing to Lazio on away goals.

Progression for Thursday's hosts would see Bilic edge a step closer to ensuring his first piece of Besiktas silverware this season, with the club still on course for a double.

 

 

 

Tags: Celtic vs FK Qarabag | Lech Poznan vs FC Basel | Rapid Wien vs Ajax | Steaua Bucuresti vs Partizan

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