Yet another trip into far, foreign lands...
Neither one of these Europa League qualifying rounds has been good for Liverpool's carbon footprint, racking up the air miles. With Grasshoppers (SUI), Utrecht (NED), AIK (SWE), FK Qarabag (AZE) and Trabzonspor possible, Liverpool drew the Turkish opposition. At least they're not going to Azerbaijan. Not to mention there's a bit of history in facing this opposition, with Liverpool beating Trabzonspor in the second round of the 1976-77 European Cup on the way to lifting Ol' Big Ears for the first time in Rome. And a bit of history in traveling to Turkey, although Trabzon, unfortunately, isn't Istanbul (it's also around 650 miles further away).
It's another team I know little about in regards to players. While Trabzonspor are the most successful Turkish club outside of the big Istanbul three, and are are arguably the toughest opposition Liverpool could have drawn – winning the Turkish Cup last season and finishing fifth in the Süper Lig – I'm unfamiliar with the majority of their squad. Alanzinho and Yattara are well-regarded wingers. Striker Teofilo Gutierrez has made a handful of appearances for the Colombian national side. Unsurprisingly, they also have a few players who've been called up to the Turkish national team. And, no, I'm not completely reliant on Wikipedia for all of this information. Just most of it. Wikipedia does describe Trabzonspor's 22-year-old starting keeper, Onur Recep Kivrak, as "young and soulful," which amuses me to no end.
No matter how far the team has to travel or the league games that will bracket both legs, Liverpool should progress. For once, it's nice to have the first leg at home. Not only will Liverpool be able to set the marker for what's needed at Anfield, it'll ease the domestic schedule. Liverpool are at home to Arsenal before the first leg and at home against Trabzonspor before facing City the following Sunday. Meanwhile, City's will have to travel to Romania for their Europa League match before hosting Liverpool. And the match after the trip to Turkey, currently scheduled for Sunday (but should be moved to Monday), is against West Brom at Anfield. It could be a lot worse were the Europa League legs reversed, but I still wouldn't expect a full-strength side for either Trabzonspor match. I'm be utterly stunned if Torres, among others, features.
The matches will take place on August 19 and 26.