Pride, passion and fascinating stories from Asia Minor
"So how is it that this team managed to win the league last year?" The million dollar question I was asked by a fellow journalist during the Valencia – Bursaspor match on Wednesday evening.
By this point, Bursa were 5-0 down and on their way to a 6-1 drubbing at the Mestalla. The sarcastic nature of the question was well and truly deserved.
Surprisingly, the Turkish side did start well and could have gone ahead if Sercan Yildirim had not choked when through one on one with Moya. I guess this was even more evidence that one of last season’s top strikers is seriously suffering from a lack of form.
From there on in it was all downhill. Juan Mata got the ball rolling from the spot after Omer Erdogan upended Aduriz. Goals from Soldado and Aduriz made it three before Joaquin’s sublime curling effort – all before half time.
A couple of changes to the Bursa back line failed to make any difference and Soldado grabbed his second shortly after the re start.
The travelling faithful, who had by this time become very quiet, were provided with a piece of history to go home with, as Pablo Batalla marked his introduction with Bursa’s first ever European goal.
Dominguez completed the rout and Ertugrul Saglam’s three minute press conference summed up the mood.
The manager was clear with his words and did not hesitate to hold his hands up. “Nobody should feel responsible for this result other than me. We have two games against Kayseri and Besiktas and it’s up to me to prepare my team so we stay in touch with the leaders.”
As if second against third was exciting enough, there is also the small matter of an Istanbul derby on Sunday night.
Before Bursa – Kayseri on Monday evening, Galatasaray and Besiktas will lock horns in the ‘battle of the struggling giants’ with both sides considerably in need of three points.
History does not favour Besiktas, who have lost 11 league matches at the Ali Sami Yen in the last 12 years. Their only win in that period came in 2002/03 when they went onto the claim the league title.
That said, the Black Eagles need not worry about that record too much longer, with Galatasaray moving to their new Turk Telekon Arena (above) in the New Year.
The news from the Cimbom camp is that Arda Turan will not feature as he recovers from a groin operation. However, Gheorghe Hagi was given a boost this week with Milan Baros returning to training. Whether or not he will be available for the weekend is still unknown but promising signs none the less.
Istanbul B.B (5th) and Fenerbahce (4th) meet on Saturday with the victors set take a step closer to the top. Yet things haven’t been entirely smooth in the Fener camp this week.
The high tempo...or shear madness of Fabio Bilica saw a training altercation between the Brazilian and young defender Caner Erkin (below).
However, a bit like Bursa on Wednesday, Caner didn’t seem to put up much of a fight. Perhaps in this instance that was a good thing…
WEEK 14 FIXTURES Friday Eskisehirspor v Manisaspor Saturday Konyaspor v Kasimpasa, Gaziantepspor v Trabzonspor, Genclerbirligi v Sivasspor, Istanbul BB v Fenerbahce Sunday Karabukspor v Ankaragucu, Bucaspor v Antalyaspor, Galatasaray v Besiktas Monday: Bursaspor v Kayserispor
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