Fenerbahce v Lazio preview

Team news for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final first-leg between Fenerbahce and Lazio at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium (kick-off 8.05pm).

Last Updated: 04/04/13 at 09:16

Aykut Kocaman: Expects a 'challenging' game for his side

Aykut Kocaman: Expects a 'challenging' game for his side

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Fenerbahce coach Aykut Kocaman believes Lazio are "one step ahead" in the race to lift this season's Europa League trophy.

The Turkish giants are looking to reach the last four of a UEFA competition for the first time by ousting Lazio at the quarter-final stage.

Vladimir Petkovic's Biancocelesti, however, are the only side yet to lose a game in this season's Europa League and are also the highest scoring club with 19 goals.

Fener may have dominated Group C before knocking both BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen out but Kocaman knows conquering the Romans at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium will be a tall order.

He told fenerbahce.org: "Of all the teams competing in the Europa League this season, Lazio just seem to be one step ahead of the rest.

"It will be an extremely challenging game and one that is so valuable to us. Therefore, playing as a team will be crucial and we will have to score."

Kocaman also issued kind words of support for fierce Istanbul rivals Galatasaray, who visit Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

"I wish Galatasaray good luck, they are going to play a very difficult game as well," he added. "Turkish football has developed so much while these two clubs have been developing.

"Now both Galatasaray and Fenerbahce are tasked with making the big breakthrough for Turkish football."

Former Liverpool duo Raul Meireles and Dirk Kuyt should start with ex-Chelsea midfielder Miroslav Stoch pushing for inclusion in the first XI.

Biancocelesti striker Miroslav Klose, meanwhile, returned from a leg injury against Catania on Saturday and could partner either Louis Saha or Libor Kozak.

The Czech Republic international is now the tournament's top scorer after his hat-trick against Stuttgart in the last 16 moved him on to eight goals, one ahead of Napoli's Edinson Cavani.

For visiting coach Petkovic, the Sukru Saracoglu holds special memories of a 1-0 win he described as "probably my greatest victory ever".

His Young Boys side eliminated Kocaman's Fenerbahce from the third qualifying round of the 2010-11 Champions League by winning in Istanbul having claimed a 2-2 draw in Berne.

And on his return to Turkey, he told Gazzetta.it: "I know Fenerbahce well - they are a very worthy opponent.

"In this stadium and with these fans they'll always have a small advantage. We will need to harness all of our mental strength to dominate them."

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