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1718 burnley turf moor 04 1000x500Two weeks ago, ahead of our home game against Aberdeen, I headlined my match preview was headlined It’s going to be a special Turf Moor night. It was, and I’m expecting another this evening even if it will be somewhat different when we face İstanbul Başakşehir in the Europa League.

It will certainly be a different encounter in the stands. Aberdeen fans poured into town, just as we’d done in the Granite City a week earlier, and they certainly helped create a fantastic Turf Moor atmosphere when they filled the away end.

Tonight, though, the away end, which was full of noise throughout the two hours of the game, will be empty. Burnley confirmed yesterday that the area will be closed tonight following İstanbul Başakşehir’s decision not to sell any tickets. This means there will be no visiting fans admitted and to comply with UEFA regulations, only Burnley supporters with a previous buying history will be able to purchase tickets.

Having away fans in the ground always helps the atmosphere and having boisterous and noisy fans, such as those from Aberdeen, takes it all to another level. Tonight it will be up to the home fans to hopefully roar on the Clarets to a play-off game against Olympiacos, bringing with it a trip to Greece next week.

It’s strange to be approaching our fifth competitive game in only mid-August, but that’s what the Europa League has brought. It started with the two Aberdeen games, then the trips to Istanbul and Southampton. They couldn’t have been more different although, in the end, the results were the same with both drawn 0-0.

The result was just about the only comparison. The draw in the first leg came from a very cautious performance but at Southampton we took the game to our hosts and would have come home with all three points with any luck.

The fans chanted and chanted for a European tour as hopes of a place in the competition became a reality. We’ve been to Scotland and Turkey, and we’d love to be going to Greece and beyond. It’s not just the fans either, those representing us out on the pitch want it just as much as we do.

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Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson was on press duty and he said: “Sometimes in England you look at the Europa League and teams don’t really want to be in it, but we definitely do. For us to play more games I think is more fun than going out to train and hopefully we can stay in this competition for as long as possible.

“It is tough to get into the group stages but that’s our target. We want to get into that because that’s the real competition, so hopefully we can make a good step by beating İstanbul Başakşehir. We know it’s going to be tough to go through to the group stages but we as a club, we want to go there.”

Whatever happens tonight, Burnley will probably have to score to go through having failed to net an away goal. A 0-0 draw will see the game go to extra time and potentially penalties while any other draw will see us go out. So we need to get a goal and win the game if possible.

JBG added: “I thought out in Istanbul it was a really good performance. It was professional and something we knew we had to do. They kept the ball for a long time but they didn’t really threaten the goal so hopefully it won’t be as much defending tomorrow, a little bit more attacking and we can score a few goals. We are playing at Turf Moor so we feel in good shape. We know it’s going to be difficult but it’s a task we can definitely get through.”

The line up will be interesting. Sean Dyche has already all but confirmed that he’ll make changes and I suspect there might be a few from the team that played at St. Mary’s. He’s already confirmed that Robbie Brady and Steven Defour aren’t ready, and that Defour will be a while yet. Neither will either of Tom Heaton or Matěj Vydra be involved. They are not on the UEFA squad list and so are ineligible, although it is unlikely Vydra would have been included.

I suspect that there could be changes at full back again with Phil Bardsley and Charlie Taylor coming in and there could be a place for either Ashley Barnes or Sam Vokes up front should he continue to ease Chris Wood back in.

Whatever the team, let’s hope it is another special Turf Moor night with a Clarets win to take us into the next round.

 

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