Turkish league set for season of ‘star wars’
Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe begin a season of 'star wars' while Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor aim to end their title droughts as the Spor Toto Süper Lig new season starts this weekend.Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe begin a season of “star wars” while Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor aim to end their title droughts as the Spor Toto Süper Lig new season starts this weekend.
The 57th edition of Turkey’s top-flight football division will kicked off on Aug. 29, with Çaykur Rizespor taking on Gençlerbirliği and Balıkesirspor facing Akhisar, but eyes will be on the country’s perennial “big four” again.
Titleholder Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, under Italy’s World Cup manager Cesare Prandelli, are both on 19 titles each and a 20th would allow the winner to add a fourth star to their team jerseys – one star is allotted for every five championships.
Fenerbahçe parted company with its title-winning coach Ersun Yanal this month and has promoted İsmail Kartal, a former player for the club and assistant coach since 2010, to succeed him. However, aside from signing former Atletico Madrid midfielder Diego on a free transfer, Fenerbahçe have been unusually silent during the summer transfer window.
Galatasaray was similarly quiet during the summer, but its biggest swoop could be Prandelli, who succeeded fellow Italian Roberto Mancini at the club. Galatasaray faces Bursaspor while Fenerbahçe’s title defense starts against Karabükspor.
The biggest challenge for both clubs will be adapting to the new foreign player rule, which states that only five non-Turkish players are allowed on the pitch.
Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor will feel they have a shot at ending Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe’s domination, which has seen the two giants dominate the league in the past four years.
Coached by Slaven Bilic, Beşiktaş signed Demba Ba from Chelsea and the Senegalese striker made an immediate impact, especially in the match against Feyenoord in the third round the Champions League qualifiers where he scored a hat-trick. The Black Eagles’ playoff performance against Arsenal ended in a 1-0 aggregate defeat, but their overall performance against the English giants was somewhat promising for the new season.
Trabzonspor will also be closely watched, since the club is embarking on the new season in an ambitious way. Led by Algeria’s World Cup coach Vahid Halilhodzic, the Black Sea Storm added former Benfica talisman Oscar Cardozo, AC Milan winger Kevin Constant, Werder Bremen midfielder Mehmet Ekici, as well as Algerian players Essaid Belkalem and Carl Medjani in a busy transfer window.
Beşiktaş will meet Süper Lig newcomer Mersin İdman Yurdu while Trabzonspor takes on Kayseri Erciyesspor in the first week.
Other games over the weekend are: Eskişehirspor vs. Torku Konaspor, Başakşehir vs. Kasımpaşa and Sivasspor vs. Gaziantepspor.