Besiktas coach Slaven Bilic is confident his in-form side can oust Tottenham Hotspur to take first place in Group C when the teams meet on Thursday.
The Black Eagles have won six of their last seven matches in all competitions since a 2-0 reverse against Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Super League on 2 November. Still unbeaten in this season’s Europa League, Besiktas occupy second spot behind Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham and need three points in Istanbul, Turkey to reach the Round of 32 as group winners.
“Although everything is decided in the group, it’s still an important game, we still want to finish first, so we’re going to give everything we can,” said Bilic. Demba Ba converted a late penalty to earn Besiktas a 1-1 draw in north London on Match Day 2, but the hosts must win and end Spurs’ 18-game undefeated streak in the Europa League group stage to grab pole position. “We’re on a good run and we would like that to continue,” said Bilic.
Top scorer Ba misses out with a toe injury while Mustafa Pektemek (cheekbone), Ugur Boral (knee), Tomas Sivok (hamstring) and Cenk Gonen (chest) are also sidelined and Atiba Hutchinson suspended, but Bilic remains optimistic his side can overcome those absentees.
“We are quite confident about winning the game, although those who will miss the match are really important players for us. We are playing Tottenham and that alone should be enough to motivate the players.” While Besiktas have their injury troubles, Tottenham welcome back England right-back Kyle Walker, who has not featured since March due to an abdominal problem. “It’s been difficult mentally and physically,” said the 24-year-old.
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