The Champions League has reached its third preliminary round, with the first batch of fixtures taking place this evening.
Those who snare the spoils at this stage are assured of a place in the pre-group-stage play-offs, where Manchester United are potential opponents.
Fenerbahce are one of the sides vying for a place in the next round and they’ll have two former Red Devils helping them achieve the objective.
It’s the Istanbul outfit’s first European fixture after a two-year match fixing ban and, looking at those they could’ve drawn, there’ll be a few conspiracy theorists suspecting their punishment is yet to cease.
The likes of Videoton FC or Milsami Orhei could’ve been pulled out of the hat, but Fener are pitted against Shakhtar Donetsk, the strongest possible adversary by some margin.
Still, with Premier League winners Robin van Persie and Nani on board, the Turks are undoubtedly in with a shout and can be backed for success at 7/5.
Van Persie is 6/4 to mark his debut with a goal, but he’s likely to start the match on the bench and doesn’t have the best record of commemorating such occasions by rustling the net.
None of his four career debuts to date – for Feyenoord, Arsenal, Man Utd and the Netherlands – have seen the Dutchman bag, rendering the 9/20 about him failing to do so a far superior wager.
However, RVP may well have a victory to celebrate – Fenerbahce, as one might expect, are a formidable force at their Sukru Saracoglu stronghold.
They’ve won five of their last six Super Lig matches on home turf, displaying a steely nerve when the big occasion called.
In their three home games against Galatasaray, Besiktas and Istanbul Basaksehir – their nearest rivals in terms of league standings last term – a trio of victories to nil were recorded.
Elsewhere, Monaco are also in action as they take their dreary European away record to Wankdorf, where they’ll face the Young Boys.
Their famous 3-1 win at Arsenal was very much the anomalous road performance of the campaign for Les Rouges et Blancs, who managed to find the net in just one of four other cross-continent sojourns last time around.
Away days were equally frustrating the previous season they graced this competition too, with their 2004/05 travelling ledger reading four losses to nil from five trips.
Such figures render 9/2 about the Young Boys triumphing without concession an excellent price.