Game of the Week: Göztepe S.K. 2 Fenerbahçe S.K 2. Opening Weekend of the 2017-18 Turkish Süper Lig.

Preview.

Göztepe S.K. , one of Turkey’s largest clubs only three years ago was in the third division of Turkish football. The club from the port city of İzmir has one of the largest followings in Turkey but for a long time hasn’t been in the highest echelons of Turkish football. That all changed last May when they beat Eskisehirspor 4-3 on penalties in 1 Lig playoff finals, marking their return to Turkey’s top flight.

The team that led Göztepe to promotion since then has mostly been dismantled. Starting with manager Yılmaz Vural who celebrated his fourth promotion triumph as a coach who was let go in early June. Vural came in when the club was outside the playoff place in late March after Okan Buruk was fired.

Former Besitkas assistant coach, Tamer Tuna was brought in to lead the newly promoted Turkish side. Since his appointment, the squad has been completely overhauled with an influx of notable foreigners.

Newcastle United winger Yoan Gouffran came in on a free transfer along with Portuguese central midfielder André Castro from Kasimpasa, Portuguese keeper Beto left from Sporting, Algerian forward Nabil Ghilas came in from recently relegated Gaziantepspor, Brazilian centre back Kadu came in from Ponte Preta, French centre back Mathieu Peybernes is on loan from Lorient, and Argentinian attacking midfielder Óscar Scarione came in from Maccabi Tel Aviv. In total 23 players have arrived and 18 players have left including top scorer Umuy Nayir who left for Turkish rivals Osmanlispor. Mehmet Sepil the chairman of Göztepe will be hoping with the money that he has spent in this past transfer window that the club can not only survive this season but perhaps compete for Europe in the coming seasons.

While Göztepe will be fighting for survival this season, Fenerbahce will be looking to improve on a 3rd place finish last season, which saw them finish behind new Turkish outfits Istanbul Basaskehir and champions Besiktas. Fener currently has 19 titles and is looking for their 20th, which would put them on par with arch rivals Galatasaray.

Fenerbache’s season will be judged on two fronts, in the Europa League and the Super Lig. New head coach Aykut Kocaman will be crucial to how well they do. Kocaman who was brought in over the summer was at Konyaspor for three years and lead the club to a its best ever finish of 3rd in the Super Lig in 2015-16 season and its first ever Turkish Cup success last season. Kocaman knows how to find success on a small budget but how will he adjust to the pressure of a massive club like Fenerbache?

Over the summer Fenerbache have brought in star-power enough to compete on two fronts. Mathieu Valbuena has joined from Lyon, former Spurs flop Roberto Soldado has come in from Villarreal, Brazilian midfielder Guiliano has come form Zenit St. Petersburg, and right winger Nabil Dirar is in from French champions Monaco. Fan favorite Emmanuel Emenike has left for Greek champions Olympiacos.

Fenerbache have already started their season after taking care of Austrian club Strum Graz in the third round of Europa League qualifying just nine days ago. With a trip to Macedonia on Thursday, Göztepe S.K. inspired by their club’s recent promotion might just have enough to get something from this occasion.

THE MATCH

Both Fenerbache and Göztepe played in 4-2-3-1 formations and most if not all of the new signings were integrated into both of their squads for this match.

Fenerbache got off to a fast start, scoring the first goal within five minutes. A quick through ball fell to Mathieu Valbuena in the box who passed the ball to an open Alper Potuk to put the visitors up 1-0.

Göztepe then responded just three minutes later. Right back Leo Schwechlen crossed the ball to head of Adis Jahovic, who found new singing Andre Castro at the edge of the box, who hit a volley to the bottom corner. Fener goalkeeper Volkan Demirel got two hands to the ball but couldn’t keep it out, tying the game up.

After the goal, Fenerbache began putting their mark on the match. Valbuena looked dangerous on the wings and with free kicks, while Van Persie came close with a header. The most interesting incident happened late in the first half when it appeared Kadu took down Potuk in the box but the ref called the play back, giving Fenerbache a free kick instead of a penalty. Off the blocked free kick, a Dirar cross found the head Topal who hit the post.

Despite, Fenerbache clearly having more chances and superior attacking ability. Göztepe took the lead in the 57th minute when Oscar Scarione who dribbled through two Fenerbache players before placing the ball in the bottom corner, giving the hosts the surprise lead.

Fener quickly replied in the 64th minute from a chance created by Valbuena off a free kick. His free kick from the left side of the box found the head of Martin Skertel to tie the game up.

Fenerbache almost scored again off another Valbuena free kick, which also found the head of Skertel who headed the ball over the goal.

 

Fenerbache were clearly the superior team in this match but their defensive mistakes were costly in this match. Göztepe were outplayed during this match and their defense looked unorganized but Oscar Scarione’s pivotal run in the midfield ultimately saved them from a home defeat.

Next up for Fenerbache is a trip to Macedonia against Skopje Vardar in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff round. Newly promoted Göztepe will travel to relegation rivals Kayserispor.

 

 

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