Spor Toto Super League standings

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Derby of Turkey: Fenerbahçe & Galatasaray Play To 0-0 Draw.

With many storylines coming into this Sunday, this was one of the most interesting matches between eternal rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in quite some time. How would Gheorghe Hagi do in his first match back in charge of Galatasaray? Could Fenerbahçe be peaking at the right time in the season? How would Galatasaray recover from a two match losing streak? Could Fenerbahçe keep the winning streak against Galatasaray at the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium going?

The match started out with Fenerbahçe kicking off. A quick corner in the first minute led to Fenerbahçe's Mehmet Topuz attempt a header on goal, but ended up in Galatasaray goalkeeper Aykut Ercetin's hands. Galatasaray almost had a goal in the fourth minute. After a pass from Elano, Juan Pablo Pino had a shot that only got saved off the goal line by the effort of Gokhan Gonul. Volkan Demirel came out of his goal to cover Pino, but Pino got off the shot that was prevented from going into the goal by Gonul. Pino would get another chance in the 12th minute. His shot was saved by Fenerbahçe's Volkan Demirel, and the ball would just barely miss the goal going out. Fenerbahçe had a chance in the 19th minute. Mamadou Niang's volley was blocked by Galatasaray's Lorik Cana. Emre Belozoglu's attempt was also blocked by Cana, and Galatasaray cleared the danger. In the 23rd minute, Lucas Neill's volley was brilliantly saved by Volkan Demirel. Neill would get a yellow card one minute later for a rough foul. The 29th minute found Juan Pablo Pino with another attempt on goal, but missed. His shot didn't miss by much. Emre Belozoglu got a yellow card for a tactical foul in the 35th minute, as Galatasaray went on a counterattack. A rough foul from Galatasaray's Ayhan Akman in the 42nd minute resulted in a yellow card, and Akman will miss Galatasaray's match next week against Antalyaspor. The first half ended with the score at 0-0.

Galatasaray kicked off the second half. In the 47th minute, a cross by Fenerbahçe's Miroslav Stoch resulted in Alex heading the ball out. In the 51st minute, Mamadou Niang almost had a goal but his shot was saved by Ercetin. Servet Cetin tried to clear the ball after the shot, but the clearance went off Ercetin by accident and was out for a corner. In the 57th minute, Stoch decided to try a long range shot that went over the bar by about two feet. In the 64th minute, Alex's corner was headed out by Mehmet Topuz, as Fenerbahçe continued to have frustration in front of the Galatasaray goal. In the 68th minute, Fenerbahçe's Diego Lugano picked up a yellow card, and he will miss Fenerbahçe's match next week against Bursaspor due to yellow card accumulation. In the 74th minute, Stoch laid off a pass to Semih Senturk, but Senturk's effort went out. Galatasaray had two efforts to win the match right at the end of the match. In the 90th minute, Emre Colak's long range effort was a weak effort and ended up in the hands of Volkan Demirel. In the third minute of three of stoppage time, PIno nearly had the winner for Galatasaray. It took a clutch save from Volkan Demirel to prevent Galatasaray from stealing the match. The match ended without a goal from both Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, but provided good entertainment for the casual fan. Galatasaray got a point, and this was their first points of any kind on the road against Fenerbahçe since 1999, the last time Galatasaray won at the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium.

There were perhaps two observations from this match. One was the effort of Juan Pablo Pino serving as the lone forward for Galatasaray. Pino, normally a wing player, was one of the men of the match. His play as the lone forward gave Fenerbahçe's defense much to think about. Without the services of Milan Baros to injury, and without Mehmet Batdal being used, Pino was a makeshift forward. But Pino did so well that perhaps Galatasaray manager Gheorghe Hagi may use him until Milan Baros returns from his injury. The second observation is the terrible job referee Bulent Yildirim did in refereeing this match. Yildirim let many harsh fouls go uncalled and, while he did give out some yellow cards, didn't whistle enough fouls. He basically let the match get out of hand and got intimidated by the match atmosphere and the players. His treatment of Lucas Neill in particular was disturbing. Neill, regardless of a yellow card in the first half, played very harshly and some of his tackles were dangerous. Yildirim let him gets off with warnings, when it would have better suited to give a card, and Neill should have been ejected from this game because of his play.

Regardless, another derby has come and gone in Turkey. Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray will meet again in the spring, and the anticipation for the derby will begin again. What will be unique about the return leg is that it will be the first derby in the brand new Turk Telekom Arena. The stadium is in the Seyrantepe district and Galatasaray will start playing at their new stadium tentatively in January. Galatasaray fans will be happy that their team got a point against their fiercest rivals in their stadium, their first point of any kind at Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium since 1999. The second Gheorghe Hagi era didn't get off to the best start for Galatasaray, but a point will be welcome after two consecutive losses. For Fenerbahçe, it seems that they were lucky to get the draw, due to Galatasaray being the better team for much of the match. Fenerbahçe still is ahead of their rivals in the standings, but will be disappointed that they couldn't get the three points needed to keep pace with the leaders in the Turkish Super League table.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gheorghe Hagi Appointed Galatasaray Manager

Galatasaray has reached an agreement with Gheorghe Hagi to become their new manager, replacing Frank Rijkaard. Hagi, who previously played for Galatasaray from 1996 to 2001, signed a contract for 1.5 years. This will be Hagi's second stint as manager of Galatasaray, as he previously was in charge in the 2004-05 season, coming over from Bursaspor. Hagi led Galatasaray to the Turkish Cup that season, beating Fenerbahçe in the final 5-1.

Hagi's assistant will be Tugay Kerimoglu. The former Galatasaray, Rangers, and Blackburn Rovers player was the consultant with the Galatasaray youth teams. Kerimoglu played with Hagi from 1996 to 1999.

The Galatasaray sports club put out this statement:

"The Galatasaray Professional Football A Team has agreed with Gheorghe Hagi to become the technical director, and agreed with Tugay Kerimoglu as the assistant.

At 3:30pm on October 22, 2010, Hagi will be presented at a signing ceremony at the Metin Oktay Facility Turgay Vardar press conference room."


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frank Rijkaard Leaves Galatasaray

Frank Rijkaard has been let go as the manager of Galatasaray by what the club claims as a contract termination by "mutual consent".

Rijkaard was signed to a two year contract in June of 2009, succeeding interim manager Bulent Korkmaz.  His first year at the Istanbul club saw Galatasaray place third in the 2009-10 season.

A statement from Galatasaray said that as of October 20, 2010 "manager Frank Rijkaard, assistant manager Johan Neeskens, and other assistants have had their contracts terminated by mutual consent.  We thank Frank Rijkaard for his efforts and work to date, and sharing with us his know-how and experience."

Rumors around the club are that Fatih Terim is set to take over for his third stint with the club.  Tugay Kerimoglu, who had previously played for the club as well as Blackburn Rovers, and is currently the manager of the youth teams, takes over on an interim basis.

Galatasaray currently are ninth in the Spor Toto Super League standings with a record of four wins and four losses, giving them 12 points.  Galatasaray currently is on a two game losing streak, and play fierce rivals Fenerbahçe this Sunday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spor Toto Super League – Week 8 Recap

After a disappointing weekend involving the Turkish national team, fans were looking forward to Spor Toto Super League action. With the always anticipated Fenerbahçe-Galatasaray derby coming next week, both of those teams would look to get wins to gain momentum towards the showdown next week. This week would see upsets for two of the big three Istanbul clubs, and the leaders starting to stumble.

Bursa's Ataturk stadium has been a fortress for the defending champions Bursaspor. While Bursaspor hasn't lost a match in their home for almost a year, they got tested by one of the season's surprise packages in Karabukspor. Bursaspor had to do without the services of Volkan Sen, who was left off the roster due to disciplinary reasons. The match started off hot and goals were coming in early. A penalty in the 10th minute for Bursaspor was scored by Turgay Bahadir, putting Bursaspor in the lead. Karabukspor won a penalty of their own in the 13th minute, and Florin Cernat converted the spot kick to tie the match. Turgay Bahadir struck again for Bursaspor in the 24th minute to give Bursaspor the league again. Ten minutes later, Florin Cernat brought the score back level for Karabukspor. Cernat later suffered an injury in the first half leading to his substitution. Cernat was thought to be out for the rest of the first half of the season, but his downtime was later reduced to four weeks. The second half saw the same level of furious play from both clubs, but the match ended 2-2. Bursaspor played to their second draw in two consecutive weeks of league play.

With a new manager in Bulent Uygun, Eskişehirspor hosted Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor looking to gain their first win in league. The municipal team from Istanbul looked to consolidate their mid-table position. Batuhan Karadeniz scored in the 33rd minute for Eskişehirspor to lead Eskişehirspor to victory. Eskişehirspor had to play much of the match with ten men due to Koray Aslan's red card in the 33rd minute. Eskişehirspor got the Bulent Uygun era off to a winning start, but they have a lot of work to do to climb back up the table.

Gaziantepspor hosted Bucaspor in the January 5th stadium in Adana. This match was played behind closed doors due to the events from week 5 in which Gaziantepspor's match against Bursaspor was abandoned. The hosts got a penalty in the 9th minute, in which Sume El Yasa was brought down in the box. Ismael Sosa converted the spot kick to put the hosts up 1-0. Ivelin Popov doubled the lead in the 44th minute, as he converted a cross from Sosa to a goal. Bucaspor tried to make a comeback in the second half, but Gaziantepspor went on to win the match 2-0.

With Beşiktaş losing to Trabzonspor 1-0 in week 7, the match in week 8 against Manisaspor looked to be a cakewalk. Even without Ricardo Quaresma and Guti in the lineup, and with this match in Inonu stadium, Beşiktaş was expected to beat Manisaspor. It didn't start out that way as Manisaspor took a shock lead through Promise Issac in the 9th minute. Beşiktaş responded with a goal of their own as Bobo tied the match in the 14th minute. The halftime break saw the match tied at one goal apiece. Manisaspor regained the lead in the 52nd minute, as Jimmy Dixon scored. Beşiktaş' chances to win the match took a blow two minutes later, when Rodrigo Tabata picked up a second yellow card for a tactical foul. Tabata previously picked up a yellow near the end of the first half for simulation. Manisaspor then scored again in the 69th minute through Yigit Gokoglan, who had come into the game five minutes earlier replacing Ariza Makukula, shocking the Inonu crowd. The match evened out from a player standpoint in the 81st minute, as Manisaspor's Eren Aydin picked up his second yellow card of the match, leading to his ejection. There came a glimmer of hope for a draw for Beşiktaş in the 89th minute, as Fabian Ernst scored to pull the deficit back to one goal. Stoppage time saw missed opportunities from Mert Nobre, Filip Holosko, and Roberto Hilbert as Beşiktaş were desperate to get the draw. Manisaspor pulled off the upset 3-2 to give Beşiktaş a shock result going into Beşiktaş' Europa League match against FC Porto.

Gençlerbirliği hosted Antalyaspor in a match between mid-table sides in Ankara. Billy Mehmet got the scoring started in the 7th minute, giving Gençlerbirliği the quick lead. Kerem Seras tied the match for Antalyaspor in the 30th minute and the first half ended 1-1. Antalyaspor came out quickly in the second half, but Ermin Zec scored in the 62nd minute to put Gençlerbirliği back ahead 2-1. Antalyaspor would get quick scores from Tita in the 79th and 82nd minutes in order to give Antalyaspor the lead and eventually the win 3-2. Antalyaspor continued their slow climb up the standings by winning four out of their last five matches, including this match. After the match, it was announced that Gençlerbirliği manager Thomas Doll was sacked.

With Bursaspor dropping points, Trabzonspor looked to close the gap between first and second places. They travelled to Istanbul to face Kasımpaşa, dead last in the standings. This match basically turned into the Trabzon goal show. Alanzinho scored in the 1st minute to give Trabzonspor the lead, and it basically went downhill for Kasımpaşa from there. Burak Yilmaz scored in the 33rd and 46th minutes. Umut Bulut, starting in the place of Teofilo Gutierrez, scored in the 44th and 81st minutes. Jaja, who came into the match replacing Alanzinho in the 62nd minute, scored in the 66th and 83rd minutes. Trabzonspor thrashed Kasımpaşa 7-0, and continued the misery for Kasımpaşa as they continue to occupy the bottom of the league standings.

Also looking to gain points on leaders Bursaspor is dark horse contenders Kayserispor. Kayserispor hosted Sivasspor in the Kadir Has stadium looking to close the point gap with Bursaspor and keep pace with Trabzonspor as well. Without the services of Mehmet Yildiz and Souleymane Keita, left off the roster due to disciplinary reasons, it was a tall order for Sivasspor to at least get a draw on the road. Sivasspor took the lead in the 20th minute with a goal from Bruno Zita. Kayserispor responded in the 28th minute as Serdar Kesimal tied the match. The second half saw Kayserispor come out aggressive. Aleksandr Amisulashivili gave Kayserispor the lead in the 52nd minute. Sivasspor would see the deficit increase to two goals as Mamadou Diallo scored an own goal to give Kayserispor a 3-1 lead. Marcelo Zayaleta put the game out of reach in the 83rd minute as Kayserispor went on to win the match 4-1.

After a shock loss on the road to Karabukspor, Galatasaray came home to the Ali Sami Yen stadium in order to recover before the important derby next week against Fenerbahçe. Facing Ankaragücü, Galatasaray looked to give their fans a victory to give them momentum going into the derby. It didn't look good for Galatasaray in the 3rd minute. Metin Akan scored off an Ankaragücü counterattack to give the visitors a shock 1-0 lead. The score going into the halftime break was Ankaragücü leading 1-0, and the fans of Galatasaray looked frustrated. Ankaragücü struck again in the 51st minute, as Ozgur Cek doubled the lead. Galatasaray got back into the match in the 57th minute, as Milan Baros scored. But hope for a Galatasaray comeback faded three minutes later, as Stanislav Sestak gave Ankaragücü a 3-1 lead. Two minutes after that, Galatasaray goalkeeper Ufuk Ceylan received a direct red card for handling the ball outside his box in a one-on-one situation, leaving him out for next week's derby. Milan Baros reduced the deficit for Galatasaray to one goal as he scored in the 65th minute. However, if getting reduced to ten men wasn't bad enough, Baros left the match in the 85th minute, as he picked up an injury leaving him doubtful for the derby next week. Two minutes into stoppage time, Ankaragücü sealed the win with Turgut Dogan Sahin scoring to make the final score 4-2 to Ankaragücü. A second consecutive loss for Galatasaray now leads to questions about the team's future, as it was rumored after this match that Frank Rijkaard may be sacked either before or after the derby.

Fenerbahçe looked to continue a recent run of good form. Going on the road to face Konyaspor it seemed as if that Fenerbahçe would be going into the derby next week on a high note. It didn't look good for Fenerbahçe in the 14th minute, as Ozer Hurmaci, starting in place of Alex de Souza, was injured and was replaced by Semih Senturk. Hurmaci later was listed as doubtful for next week's derby. Emre Belozoglu got the scoring started in the 26th minute, as Fenerbahçe took a 1-0 lead. Konyaspor got a tying goal through Peter Grajciar in the 31st minute. But Fenerbahçe took over the match three minutes later, as Semih Senturk made the score 2-1 to Fenerbahçe. Miroslav Stoch added a third goal for Fenerbahçe in the 41st minute, and Fenerbahçe went into the halftime break up 3-1. Diego Lugano added a fourth goal off a header and Fenerbahçe cruised to a 4-1 victory.

After the matches this week, it is striking to see that, currently, five out of the top six positions in the Spor Toto Super League are occupied by Anatolian teams. The places from 1st to 6th are occupied by Bursaspor, Trabzonspor, Kayserispor, Fenerbahçe, Karabukspor, and Antalyaspor. Next week features the most anticipated date of the Turkish football calendar, as Fenerbahçe hosts Galatasaray on Sunday October 24th. Also featured next week is an important clash on Monday October 25th, as Beşiktaş travels to the Kadir Has stadium to face Kayserispor. But the eyes of Turkey will be at the Fenerbahçe Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium for one of the biggest derby matches in the world.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Turkey Announces Roster For October Euro 2012 Qualifiers

The roster for the Turkish national team was announced for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Germany and Azerbaijan. The roster is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Volkan Demirel (Fenerbahçe), Hakan Arıkan, Cenk Gönen (Beşiktaş), Onur Recep Kıvrak (Trabzonspor)

Defenders: Gökhan Gönül (Fenerbahçe), Sabri Sarıoğlu, Servet Çetin, Hakan Kadir Balta (Galatasaray), Ömer Erdoğan (Bursaspor), İbrahim Toraman, İsmail Köybaşı (Beşiktaş), Ceyhun Gülselam (Trabzonspor)

Midfielders: Hamit Altıntop (Bayern Münih), Mehmet Aurelio, Necip Uysal (Beşiktaş), Selçuk Şahin, Emre Belözoğlu, Özer Hurmacı (Fenerbahçe), Nuri Şahin (Borussia Dortmund), Selçuk İnan (Trabzonspor),
Arda Turan (Galatasaray)

Forwards: Tuncay Şanlı (Stoke City), Halil Altıntop (Eintracht Frankfurt), Semih Şentürk (Fenerbahçe), Mevlüt Erdinç (Paris Saint Germain), Nihat Kahveci (Beşiktaş), Sercan Yıldırım (Bursaspor)

There are a couple of interesting call-ups for Turkey with this roster. Although the roster is nearly the same as it was for the matches last month, two call-ups particularly stand out.

Cenk Gönen is the first standout call-up. Gönen has proven himself to be a goalkeeper who has made fewer mistakes than his counterpart on Beşiktaş, Hakan Arikan. Arikan has been at the wrong end of mistakes made in the Beşiktaş net in the previous two weeks of matches. Arikan was saved in the previous week against Antalyaspor with a potent Beşiktaş offense. But it seems that this might be Gönen's time at Beşiktaş. Gönen has certainly earned his call up here, although it's highly doubtful he will play against either two countries.

The other interesting call-up is Özer Hurmacı. Hurmacı has barely featured for Fenerbahçe this season. Most of the time, Hurmacı has been featured coming off the bench. He has barely featured in the last few weeks for Fenerbahçe. He has a lot of potential, but it is still yet to be seen whether that potential is to be realized.

Perhaps the most glaring omission is Mehmet Topal of Valencia. From reading reports from blogs and watching highlights, it seems as if Topal has been one of the key acquisitions for Valencia this season. Topal has been quiet, but does his job effectively, and is starting to become a key player in the Valencia squad. Topal would be a far better choice than the ageing Mehmet Aurelio or the mediocre Selcuk Sahin.

Turkey is scheduled to play Germany in Berlin on Friday, October 8th and Azerbaijan on Tuesday, October 12th. The match against Germany will pit both nations who have not dropped points so far in the qualifying campaign. One of the interesting stories coming out of that match will be the crowd make-up, as Turks make up the largest minority group in Germany. The match has the possibility to become a "home" match for the Turkish national team. Four days later, Turkey will travel to Baku to face Azerbaijan. This is more of a battle of brotherly nations, as both countries share similar cultures and speak different dialects of the same language.

Turkey will have a huge test coming up against the third place team from the most recent World Cup. Even if Turkey does not win against Germany, they can't let that potential loss affect them against Azerbaijan. Turkey has been known as the most erratic national team on earth, and they will have to be on their A game to get maximum points in perhaps their biggest challenge early on in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.