Lazio v Fenerbahce, 8.05pm, Live on ESPN
Match odds: Lazio 1.94, Fenerbahce 4.7, the draw 3.65
FENERBAHCE are in pole position after a 2-0 first-leg win in Turkey but such is Lazio’s excellent home form in the Europa League, coach Aykut Kocaman will know the job is far from complete.
Fener finished the first leg strongly, scoring twice in the closing stages after Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi had been sent off just after the break.
Lazio’s home form in the Europa League has been excellent, with five wins and a draw. They must play the match behind closed doors but those conditions didn’t seem to bother them when they dismantled Stuttgart 3-1 in the last 16. In all competitions Lazio have lost just two of their last 22 home matches.
While Lazio will take heart from their home form, Fener are an incredibly gritty outfit on their travels. The Turkish giants are unbeaten away from home in the Europa League, won all three of their away group games, and beat Viktoria Plzen 1-0 in the Czech Republic in the previous round.
They have also kept clean sheets in their last four Europa League away games. Injuries have deprived Fener of midfielder Emre and striker Moussa Sow, while defender Bekir Irtegun is suspended.
This is a tricky one to call because Lazio are great at home but have no margin for error against a Fener team that seems to love playing on the road and that has won six of the last seven games in all competitions.
I’m not sure whether Lazio can overturn the 2-0 deficit (Opta says only two teams have done so in the competition’s history), but their home form in all competitions (18 wins in 25 matches) is dragging me towards backing a Lazio victory at 1.94.
The experience and quality of veteran frontman Miroslav Klose, who has recently returned from injury, could also prove crucial.
Back Lazio to win at 1.94