Big-spending Galatasaray starts league title defense

Big-spending Galatasaray starts league title defense

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Big-spending Galatasaray starts league title defense

Fenerbahçe defender Orhan Şam reacts after the final whistle in the Elazığspor game.

Defending Spor Toto Super League champion Galatasaray will begin the long road to retain its title when it hosts Kasımpaşaspor at Türk Telekom Arena tonight.

Galatasaray has been the most active Turkish club in the transfer season, bringing in five new players.
The Istanbul club spent over 20 million euros on a string of high-profile players, signing Nordin Amrabat from Kayserispor and Burak Yılmaz from Trabzonspor, where he scored 55 goals in 75 league matches. The club also extended the loan of midfielder Felipe Melo from Juventus and agreed to another temporary deal for Toulouse striker Umut Bulut.

One of Galatasaray’s top transfers is Hamit Altıntop from Real Madrid – the first time the 72-cap Turkish international has played for a Turkish side.

Despite the reinforcements, Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim has spoken cautiously about the campaign ahead. “Transfers do not win you games,” he recently told reporters. “We have made really good signings, but if you don’t work as hard as your opponents, they mean nothing. Our strategy is relying on Turkish players, thinking about the future.”

First test successful
In the first test of the new squad, Galatasaray beat its archrival Fenerbahçe 3-2 to claim the Turkish Super Cup on Aug. 12. But the reigning champion lost midfielder Engin Baytar; the controversial player was handed an 11-game ban by the Turkish Football Federation’s Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK) last week after pushing referee Cüneyt Çakır, who officiated games at Euro 2012 with distinction.

Gençlerbirliği also opens the new season tonight at home against Antalyaspor. The Ankara club, which has in the past few seasons made a habit of frequently changing its coach, opted to continue with Fuat Çapa, under whom it narrowly missed a Europa League playoff spot last season.

Gençlerbirlği also made a last-minute addition to its squad over the weekend, signing former Galatasaray midfielder Serdar Kurtuluş on a free transfer. The game at 19 Mayıs Stadium kicks off at 7:30 p.m., while the Galatasaray-Kasımpaşa fixture begins at 9 p.m.

Fenerbahçe fumbles in season opener

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Last season’s Spor Toto Super League runner-up Fenerbahçe was held to a 1-1 draw Aug. 18 by 10-man Elazığspor in its first game of the new season.

Following a goalless first half, Cameroonian striker Herve Tum put Elazığspor ahead in the 50th minute at İzmir’s Atatürk Stadium, which hosted the game due to maintenance work in the eastern club’s home arena.

Fenerbahçe’s new signing Dirk Kuyt scored his debut league goal to level the score in the 65th – his fourth goal in four official games he has played for his new club. Elazığspor defender Sedat Bayral was sent off following a scuffle after the goal, but the Istanbul club could not score the winner in the remaining minutes. Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman said the squad still needed some time to gel.

“We have signed six new players; I think this team will be a well-functioning team in two months time,” Kocaman told a post-game press conference.

Kocaman said there could be some problems with “patience.”

“I vouch for the quality of the players in this squad; their form will be much better,” he said, adding that a tough challenge awaited the club in Moscow tomorrow against Spartak Moscow in the first leg of the playoff round for Champions League qualification.