Konyaspor vS Shakhtar Donetsk
Football: European Europa League
Thursday 16th September 2016 - Kick Off 02:00 GMT+7
As something of a yo-yo club in Turkey, Konyaspor had not played in European competition through their history. That is all going to change this season as they made it through to the Europa League thanks to a 3rd place finish in the Turkish top flight last season.
They have just started a little slowly out of the gate in the new season, although their League table finish meant Konyaspor earned a direct spot in the Europa League Group Stage. This is their first season in any European competition and Konyaspor will be an underdog when you think the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk, Sporting Braga and Gent make up the section.
Konyaspor are unbeaten in 6 games going back to last season, but they did open the 2016/17 season with back to back draws. However that was snapped with a 1-3 away win at the weekend and Konyaspor are unbeaten in 4 home games, while they had won 3 in a row before the draw in the opening game of this season.
There have been times that Shakhtar Donetsk have made a big impact in the Champions League, but they failed in the Qualifiers this season in unexpected fashion to Young Boys. It didn't stop Shakhtar Donetsk from working their way through to the Group Stage of the Europa League, a competition in which they reached the Semi Final last season.
A 2-0 defeat in Switzerland means Shakhtar Donetsk have lost 2 of their last 3 away games in Europe, although they have won 4 of 6 when you look a little deeper. They had lost back to back away games in all European competition, but Shakhtar Donetsk snapped that run by winning in Turkey once this season when beating Istanbul Basaksehir in the Play Off Round.
Shakhtar Donetsk are unbeaten in 7 games in all competitions since losing to Young Boys and they had won 6 in a row before a 1-1 draw with Dynamo Kiev this past weekend. They have won 5 of their last 6 away games in all competitions and Shakhtar Donetsk have won 3 in a row on their travels since the Champions League loss in Switzerland.
Head to Head
This is the first time these teams have met in a competitive fixture.
Konyaspor are in a difficult Group when you think of the lack of experience they have in the Europa League, but the most difficult test might be the one right out of the gate. For a team making their debut in European competition, Konyaspor might have wished for a much better game than facing Shakhtar Donetsk who reached the Semi Final of the Europa League just a few months ago.
A defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League shows that this is not the same strong Shakhtar Donetsk of years gone past, but they have won 4 of their last 6 away games in Europe. Add the fact they have won at Istanbul Basaksehir already just last month and I think Shakhtar Donetsk can head to Konyaspor with plenty of confidence behind them.
No doubt that it is never easy to play in Turkey for a visiting team, but Shakhtar Donetsk have recent experience of that and that could be an important factor in this match. The team they beat are leading the Turkish domestic League and I think getting odds against on Shakhtar Donetsk winning here has to be taken.