Galatasaray return to Europa League
The Istanbul-based club has returned after five plus years and are set to host Italian team Lazio in Europa League Round of 32 at home late ThursdayTurkish football heavyweight Galatasaray have returned to Europe's second tier club level international football tournament, UEFA Europa League, after a five-and-half-year break.
Galatasaray proceeded towards Europa League after having completed the top tier UEFA Champions League group stage in the third place this season.
The Istanbul giants will now host the Italian club, Lazio, in their home ground Turk Telekom Arena late Thursday.
The first leg of the match, which will be refereed by Michael Oliver from the English Football Association, will kick off at 10.05 p.m. local time (2005 GMT).
Galatasaray's Turkish forward Sinan Gumus, who sustained a major hamstring injury, will miss the match. Lazio regular in defense, Stefan Radu, who suffers from thigh injury, will also not play.
Having last played a Europa League match in August 2010, Galatasaray won the UEFA Cup on May 17, 2000, which is still considered as one of the greatest achievement of Turkish football. The Lions had lifted the trophy by eliminating London giants Arsenal on penalties in Copenhagen.
During the 2010-11 season, Galatasaray was eliminated by Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv in the Europa League play-off round. In the 2011-12 season, Turkish side did not play in any European challenge.
In the last four seasons, the Istanbul giants have played in the Champions League.
Europa League Last 32 first leg fixtures are:
Anderlecht (Belgium) vs Olympiacos (Greece)
Midtjylland (Denmark) vs Manchester United (England)
Fiorentina (Italy) vs Tottenham (England)
Borussia Dortmund (Germany) vs Porto (Portugal)
Villarreal (Spain) vs Napoli (Italy)
Saint-Etienne (France) vs Basel (Switzerland)
Sevilla (Spain) vs Molde (Norway)
Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) vs Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Valencia (Spain) vs Rapid Wien (Austria)
Augsburg (Germany) vs Liverpool (England)
Sparta Prague (Czech Republic) vs Krasnodar (Russia)
Galatasaray (Turkey) vs Lazio (Italy)
Sion (Switzerland) vs Braga (Portugal)
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) vs Schalke 04 (Germany)
Olympique Marseille (France) vs Athletic Bilbao (Spain)
The second leg matches will be played on Feb. 24-25.
Turkey's Fenerbahce beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 32 tie in Istanbul on Tuesday evening. The second leg will be played at Stadion Lokomotiv in Moscow on Feb. 25.