After a long wait in the summer, the Turkish Super League got back to business. With a new sponsor, new transfers and two Anatolian teams as defending league and cup champions, this may be the most interesting season in quite some time. While the excitement of last season won’t be forgotten soon, it’s time for a new season to begin. Will another champion come from Anatolia or will the league go back to the status quo with one of the Big 3 Istanbul teams winning it all?
Anatolian matches on Saturday were fit to be tied. Both Gaziantepspor – Kasımpaşa and Eskişehirspor – Gençlerbirliği ended in a 0-0 score. One of the more interesting highlights was from Eskisehir, where the floodlights went out in the stadium. In the stands, the Eskişehirspor fans decided to put on their own lights show before the floodlights came back on. Ermin Zec of Gençlerbirliği had a chance at the end of the match to steal the win for Gençlerbirliği, as he went one on one with Eskişehirspor goalkeeper Vanja Ivesa. Zec’s effort was wide.
Galatasaray came into this season with high hopes. Coming off a disappointing season in Frank Rijkaard’s first year, mostly due to injuries, Galatasaray looked to start off this season off on a high note. They went to the September 4th stadium to take on Sivasspor, who avoided relegation last season by the skin of their teeth. It looked good for Galatasaray in the 7th minute as Mustafa Sarp scored from a cross from Arda Turan. In the 43rd minute, Lucas Neill pulled down Sivasspor’s Mehmet Yildiz near the penalty area.
After arguments from the Galatasaray players and coaches, the free kick by Ceyhun Eris was headed home by Bruno Zita to tie the match. Sivasspor took the lead for good in the 60th minute, when Ceyhun Eris made a run toward the penalty area, and laid off a pass to Cihan Yilmaz. Yilmaz put it home to make the final score 2-1 to Sivasspor. Sivasspor manager Mesut Bakkal continued a streak of sorts continuing from last season. Sivasspor has not lost a match in their past seven league matches, including this match, since Bakkal took over the reins with six weeks to go last season. It was a disappointing start to the season for Galatasaray, while it may provide a spark to Sivasspor, picked by some to be a relegation candidate for this season.
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The most anticipated match Saturday was Bucaspor against Beşiktaş. The match was held at the Izmir Ataturk stadium because Buca Arena would’ve been too small to hold this match. Both teams made many transfers during the offseason, but many wanted to see how Beşiktaş’ star signings, Ricardo Quaresma and Guti, would do in league play. Guti was mostly invisible during the match, which Quaresma had many opportunities on goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Bucaspor held Beşiktaş to a 0-0 score at halftime. But in the first minute of the second half, Guti delivered a through ball to Bobo and Bobo put it home to give Beşiktaş the lead 1-0. Only 14 seconds had elapsed from the start of the second half and the goal. Bucaspor tried to come back, but their fate was sealed in the 75th minute when Ediz Bahtiyaroglu received a direct red card. Beşiktaş got their season off to a good start, while Bucaspor will have to recover for next week.
Kardemir Karabukspor practically ran away with the Bank Asya 1st division championship last year. Retaining last year’s manager Yucel Ildiz, and making many transfers to beef up the squad, Karabukspor looked to get their Super League season off to a winning start at home against Manisaspor. Manisaspor escaped relegation last year, and hoped to get off to a good start as well. Although starting only three starters from the previous season, Karabukspor were the victors with a 2-1 score. Emmanuel Emenike picked up where he left off last season, where he led the 1st division in goals scored, and scored in the 46th minute. Emil Angelov, transferred from Denizlispor, scored the second goal in the 82nd minute. In an ironic twist, Angelov came on for Emenike in the 73rd minute. Manisaspor got a consolation goal from Kahe in the 90th minute, but it was too little, too late.
After winning the Turkish Super Cup the previous week against Bursaspor, Trabzonspor looked to continue their recent run of form, starting off their season against Ankaragücü at the May 19th stadium in Ankara. Due to crowd trouble in the previous season, Ankaragücü have to play their first two home matches behind closed doors. Both teams seemed to feel each other out in the first half, and the first half ended 0-0. Trabzonspor turned up the pressure in the second half. Teofilo Gutierrez scored both goals in the 70th and 82nd minutes. Both goals were set up by Gustavo Colman’s through ball passing and the resulting crosses from Umut Bulut. With a UEFA Europa League playoff round date against English giants Liverpool this coming Thursday, Trabzonspor got off to a flying start, and Gutierrez may be finding his scoring touch at the right time.
With an embarrassing elimination by Swiss side Young Boys from the UEFA Champions League still fresh on their minds; Fenerbahçe looked to put that behind them as they would open the season at home against Medical Park Antalyaspor. The match was played without spectators as punishment for the events that took place at the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium at the end of last season. Fenerbahçe’s newest transfer Mamadou Niang would observe the match from the VIP box as Fenerbahçe looked to start their season off on a winning note. It wouldn’t take long as Semih Senturk, starting over Gokhan Gonul and Dani Guiza, scored in the 8th and 13th minute to give Fenerbahçe a quick 2-0 lead. Alex de Souza would make it 3-0 in the 24th minute and the rout was on. Gokhan Gonul scored in the 28th minute with a chip over the Antalyaspor goalkeeper to make the score 4-0. Fenerbahçe took it easy the rest of the game and won 4-0.
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One highlight of the match that wasn’t goal scoring related was Volkan Demirel being substituted at the beginning of the second half, replaced by Fenerbahçe youth product Mert Gunok. It was later revealed that Demirel has a slight tear in his right quadriceps, making his status questionable for the 1st leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff round against PAOK Thessaloniki of Greece.
With a new coach in Shota Arveladze, Kayserispor looked to improve on their eighth place finish last season by getting off to a winning start. Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor also wanted to get off on the right note, and potentially contend for a European spot this season improving upon their finish of 6th last season. The first half was nothing to write home about, as Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor practically didn’t have a right flank, and Kayserispor didn’t get off the blocks either. Kayserispor would takeoverin the second half. Franco Cangele put Kayserispor up 1-0 in the 66th minute. One of Kayserispor’s newest transfers, Jonathan Santana of Paraguay, put the match out of reach in the 82nd minute, making the final score 2-0 in favor of Kayserispor.
Bursaspor, the defending champions, started off their season at home at the recently renovated Bursa Ataturk stadium. The opponent for the defending champions was Konyaspor, the Bank Asya 1st division playoff winners. Bursaspor was on the attack for most of the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. But in the 41st minute, Sercan Yildirim, who came into the match in the 17th minute when Turgay Bahadir picked up an injury, scored to put the home side up 1-0. Bursaspor kept up the offense during the second half. Although Konyaspor had their chances, the final score ended up with the champions getting the three points with a 1-0 victory. The central defense of Milan Stepanov and Omer Erdogan impressed many in this match, while recent transfer Leonel Nunez also impressed with his attacking prowess, hitting the woodwork in the 63rd minute.
Next week features some important matches. Fenerbahçe travels to Trabzon to face Trabzonspor in a featured match next Monday. Next Sunday, Bursaspor travels to the Ali Sami Yen stadium to face Galatasaray in Galatasaray’s home opener.