Turkish teams learn European rivals
DHA PhotoThree Istanbul clubs have learned who their rivals will be in competitions on the European stage, while all three are also hoping to improve their forms in domestic competition this weekend.
Fenerbahçe on Aug. 28 was drawn in what pundits said was one of the trickiest groups for the next stage of the Europa League competition. Fenerbahçe will meet Scottish champions Celtic and Dutch league runner-up Ajax, both of which failed to qualify for the Champions League group phase, just like Fenerbahçe. Group A was completed by Norwegian champion Molde.
“It’s a good group with some big teams and there will be a lot of exciting games home and away,” said Celtic manager Ronny Deila.
Beşiktaş, which also competes in the same event, will be in a relatively easier group, together with Sporting Lisbon of Portugal, Russian Lokomotiv Moscow and Skenderbeu, the Albanian league’s champion.
“We know Sporting and Lokomotiv but we don’t have much information about the Albanian outfit,” said Beşiktaş board member Erdal Torunoğulları. “We want to go as far as possible in Europe,” he added.
Galatasaray, on the other hand, will play against Portuguese club Benfica, Atletico Madrid of Spain and Astana, the Kazakh champion that will enjoy the Champions League group stage for the first time.
“In every match our opponents will be favorites, but we have to do all we can and put in 100 percent effort,” Astana coach Stanimir Stoilov said after the draw on Aug. 27. “We want to go through - we’ll play our natural game.”
Atletico is unbeaten in four fixtures against Galatasaray, winning two games - both away from home - and drawing the other two. The Spanish side triumphed 1-0 on aggregate (0-0 home, 1-0 away) in the 1973-1974 European Champion Clubs’ Cup first round and 3-2 (1-1 home, 2-1 away) in the 2009-2010 Europa League round of 32.
On each occasion, Atletico went on to reach the final of the competition, losing to Bayern Munich in the former season but winning the 2010 UEFA Europa League.
However, before beginning their European campaign in a few weeks, the three clubs will have to concentrate on the Spor Toto Super League to prevent further losses in Week 3.
Galatasaray and Beşiktaş lost their games last week, against newcomer Osmanlıspor and Trabzonspor, respectively, while Fenerbahçe was held to a draw at minnow Çaykur Rizespor.
The Istanbul club, whose squad includes star players such as Nani and Robin Van Persie, will host Samuel Eto’o’s Antalyaspor on Aug. 30.
Galatasaray, which has yet to win a league game this season, travels to Torku Konyaspor on Aug. 29.
Beşiktaş was to play at Gaziantepspor late Aug. 28.
In the weekend’s other Spor Toto Super League games, Gençlerbirliği hosts Kasımpaşa, Bursaspor visits Başakşehir and Mersin İdmanyurdu takes on Kayserispor on Aug. 29.
In Aug. 30’s games, Eskişehirspor hosts Çaykur Rize, Trabzonspor plays Akhisar Belediye and Osmanlıspor visits Sivasspor.