Fenerbahçe going all out for European success
AFP PhotoFenerbahçe players will give their all when the Turkish club visits Shakhtar Donetsk on Aug. 5 in the second leg of a Champions League third qualifying round game.
Having been held to a goalless draw last week at home, Fenerbahçe will need to score at least one goal to advance to the playoffs and extend its chances of claiming a berth in the group stage.
The losing side of the clash will bid farewell to the European competition, while the advancing team will at least guarantee a place in the Europa League, making the game even more critical for both sides.
Fenerbahçe has failed to advance to the Champions League from the qualifying stage in its last three tries, in the 2010-2011, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons, and will have a giant hurdle even if it manages to defeat the Ukrainians, as the winner of the clash will be drawn against one of the European powerhouses, including Manchester United.
With high-profile signings such as Portuguese international Nani and Dutch star Robin van Persie, Fenerbahçe has invested heavily in the off season and does not want be disappointed again.
Good news for the club’s finances came on Aug. 3, with a lucrative sponsorship deal with Yıldız Holding.
The holding, best known for its Ülker brand food products, will pay Fenerbahçe $9 million per year in a 10-year deal, winning the rights to the stadium’s name and other various advertisement and promotion rights.
The name of the Istanbul’s club’s home stadium is expected to be changed to Şükrü Saraçoğlu Ülker Stadium.
The fallout from Shakhtar’s trip to Istanbul last week centered on the Ukrainian side’s Brazilian midfielder Fred.
Lucescu decided to play Fred, despite the Brazil international testing positive for a banned substance during last month’s Copa America.
Fenerbahçe launched an official protest, which UEFA dismissed.
The 0-0 result stands for the first-leg match, since UEFA said Fred had not been suspended by the South American confederation CONMEBOL when the first leg was played.
However, Fred is unlikely to play tonight because of the doping case.
Shaktar grabbed a 2-0 win over Hoverla in the Ukrainian Premier League, making coach Mircea Lucescu happy.
“Three points, two goals scored and zero conceded, which is very important,” the experienced Romanian coach said after the game.
“Plus, of course, this is one of the aspects of preparation for the encounter with Fenerbahçe, who will not play like Hoverla was playing today.
“It was the game between our offensive players and the team who defended in a very good and organized way, particularly in the first half,” he said.
The game will kick off at 9:45 p.m. Turkish time in Lviv and will be available on Digiturk for an additional pay-per-view fee of 30 Turkish Liras.