Whatever happens, history is in the making in Portugal on Thursday when Fenerbahce travel to the Stadium of Light to face Benfica, taking with them a 1-0 lead from last week’s Europa League semi-final first leg in Turkey.
Barring something unexpected, these two sides are battling it out for the right to face Chelsea, who will surely finish the job against Basel in the other semi-final, and the prospect of a major European final in Amsterdam against Premier League giants is the huge carrot for these two fine teams.
Benfica are chasing a first European trophy since 1962, while Fenerbahce are trying to reach their first ever continental showpiece and to that end, it is advantage Fenerbahce.
A 1-0 win at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium last week, courtesy of Egemen Korkmaz’s second-half header, has put the Turks in the driving seat and in truth they can count themselves unlucky not to be further ahead at halftime in the tie.
Aykut Kocaman’s side were easily the better team and even missed a penalty when Cristian Baroni struck the post from 12 yards in the first half.
But even allowing for that disappointment, the first leg could not have gone better for Fenerbahce and they go to Portugal with a dream scoreline.
In front and, crucially, with a clean sheet to boot, the Turks are in control of this tie and for me they look a huge price to get what they need and qualify for the final.
Benfica are 9/25 to win inside 90 minutes, but my play is a combination of the draw at 333/100 and an away win at 7/1, which both look far, far too big to me.
You can get 19/10 that Fenerbahce avoid defeat, and that is a massive price which I am more than happy to take.
I can understand why the bookies would price Benfica up as favourites given their home record, which is excellent: their only defeat in 23 games at the Stadium of Light this season came to Barcelona in the Champions League, and 18 of those matches have been won.
But Jorge Jesus’ side are in their worst run of the season at the moment. With just two wins in five games, the manager has admitted that fighting on three fronts (they are four points clear domestically and still in the cup) is taking its toll and he has even stated ‘fatigue is a problem’.
And Fenerbahce have proved this season that what a fine side they are on the road.
Tough, resolute and hard to beat, Fener have lost just three of their last 22 away games and are unbeaten in six Europa League trips this term.
They have kept four clean sheets in those six games, and with a lead to hold on to, they can show the doggedness that has served them so well this season.
They boast the best away defensive record in the Turkish Super Lig, conceding just 16 goals in 15 games, and they are always liable to nick a goal – they have failed to score just five times in 28 away games this season.
So this is no the gimme for Benfica that the prices suggest, and with the threat of an away goal looming large for the Portuguese, it’s not likely they will go gung-ho.
It will make for a tight match similar to last week and it means that, at the prices, you have to be siding with Fenerbahce at a huge-looking 19/10 to get a result and send their passionate fans wild.
As a final thought, if you prefer, you can take the 21/20 that Fenerbahce qualify for the next round.
Again, that looks a great price given lead they have at present and gives you the added possibility of the Turks winning on away goals, in extra time or on penalties.