Our prediction for this Europa League match:
As expected, Besiktas eliminated Partizan in the Europa League play-offs. The Turkish side outplayed the Serbian vice-champions in the play-offs and it has to be noted that coach Senol Gunes could not count on key attacker Alvaro Negredo for the double-header. The former Man City striker is likely to start against Sarpsborg and we predict that he is going to prove a handful for the opposition defenders. The Norwegian side, on the other hand, booked their place in the group stages thanks to a win over Maccabi Tel Aviv, but they will have a much bigger fish to fry in Thursday’s football match against Besiktas. Sarpsborg were beaten by Maccabi in Tel Aviv and, taking everything into account, we do not believe that they are capable of spoiling Besiktas’ party in Istanbul. It has to be noted that the two teams meet for the first time ever in European competitions.
Highlighted Player (Oguzhan Ozyakup):
The 23-year-old Netherlands-born Turkish international Oguzhan Ozyakup is a midfielder who started his professional career at Premier League giants Arsenal. Ozyakup arrived to the London-based club as a schoolboy from AZ and went through Arsenal academy, before making his competitive debut in a League Cup match against Shrewsbury Town, when he supplied the assist for Yossi Benayoun in a 3-1 victory.
The Turkish international however failed to break into the first-team and was transferred to Besiktas in 2012. Turkey international has passed the 100-match mark for his club in 2016 and is considered one of the more experienced and most valuable players of the club, despite he is only 23 years of age.
The talented midfielder was subject of intense transfer speculation during the 2016 summer transfer window with Valencia reportedly expressing interest in signing the Turkish footballer, but Ozyakup remained at Besiktas and went on to extend his contract, which will keep him at the Vodafone Arena until 2018.
Highlighted Team (Sarpsborg 08):
Sarpsborg 08 are a Norwegian side which won the domestic cup six times. In the 2018/2019 season Sarpsborg booked their place in the Europa League group stages, with the team facing the likes of Besiktas, Genk and Malmo in Group I. It has to be noted that they made it to the group stages of the competition by beating the likes of IBV, St. Gallen, Rijeka and Maccabi Tel Aviv in the qualifiers.
The club was founded in January, 2008 and they play their home games at Sarpsborg Stadion, which can hold 6,833 spectators. Sarpsborg 08 have yet to win the national championship, but they finished the 2017 season in third place in the standings, 10 points behind champions Rosenborg.
The Norwegian side play their home games in blue shirts with white stripes, whilst they wear green shirts with black stripes on the travels. Sarpsborg 98 played in Norwegian third tier at the start of the 21st century, but they quickly secured promotion to the elite division.