The torture is finally over, football returned to Turkey over the weekend and did not disappoint. The Super Lig welcomed the likes of Robin van Persie, Luis Nani and Lukas Podolski among others over the summer. The influx of attacking players was felt from the get-go as the net bulged 34 times over the nine games in the opening round.
Fenerbahçe were the talk of the summer bringing in Manchester United duo Van Persie and Nani in addition to eight other players including Brazil international Josef De Souza, Danish international Simon Kjaer, Turkish international’s Ozan Tufan, Şener Özbayraklı and Volkan Şen as well as last seasons Super Lig goal king Fernandao.
The Yellow Canaries did not disappoint and ended up comfortably beating Eskişehirspor 2-0 at the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium thanks to goals from Moussa Sow and Fernandao. Diego Ribas had a particularly impressive game as did Josef De Souza who completed more tackles than any other player in the league – 10. Considering Fenerbahçe made 10 transfers over the transfer window while parting ways with nine players the team have started to gel sooner than expected. Once Vitor Pereira gets his side to click they will become very difficult to stop.
Saturday saw two emerging powerhouses of Turkish football Trabzonspor and Bursaspor lock horns at the Avni Aker. The Black Sea Storm signed several players over the summer including Europa League winner M’bia, Hull City striker Dame N’Doye and Lazio full-back Cavanda. Bursaspor sold several players… well actually half the team this summer. Last seasons star players Ozan Tufan, Şener Özbayraklı, Fernandao and Volkan Şen all joined Fenerbahçe while 18-year-old striker Enes Ünal was snapped up by Manchester City and Batuhan Altıntaş joined HSV. The Green Crocodiles have made several signings themselves and replaced Şenol Güneş with Ertuğrul Sağlam – who guided the same team to the league championship in 2013 – but it is clear they will need time to digest a summer of dramatic change. Trabzonspor ended up wining the game 1-0 in what ended up being the lowest scoring game of the weekend.
The Antalyaspor – Başakşehir game was a far more lively affair. Last seasons surprise package Başakşehir were outgunned by newly promoted Antalyaspor who may just end up taking that title off the Istanbul minnows if they keep performing as they did on the weekend. The Scorpions made a triumphant return to the Super Lig winning their opening game 3-2 thanks in no small part to Samuel Eto’o scoring two exquisite goals.
Reigning champions Galatasaray did not get off to the start they were hoping for drawing 2-2 against Sivasspor – but it could have ended a lot worse. The Yiğidolar were leading 2-0 after Aatif bagged a brace but Burak Yılmaz and former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski scored late on to rescue a point for the away side. Hamza Hamzaoğlu has been putting on a brave face for the cameras claiming he does not need any additional transfers but behind closed doors he will be concerned with the right side of the team. Sabri Sarıoğlu, Bilal Kısa, Olcan Adın, Yasin Öztekin… could really struggle in the Champions League as well as the domestic league. What Galatasaray do have however, is a winning mentality – three league titles in four years – and most of this side has been involved in most if not all of those title winning sides.
Sunday got underway with a 1-1 draw between Akhisar and Konyaspor while the dual of the newly promoted sides Kayserispor and Osmanlispor also ended 1-1. Kasımpaşa trounced Gaziantepspor 3-0 with on-loan Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo putting in a noteworthy performance in his debut game for the Istanbul based side.
The fun was only beginning however, as Beşiktaş and Mersin took each other on in what ended up being a seven goal thriller. The Black Eagles won the game 5-2 and while you could make a case for half the team deserving a man of the match award in fairness we would probably go for hat-trick hero Cenk Tosun or Oğuzhan Özyakup with his assist treble. Both players put on a scintillating performance but the team as a whole and head coach Şenol Güneş also deserve the plaudits. Beşiktaş were the highest rated team with a Whoscored score of 7.68. The Black Eagles blew Mersin off the field with direct, fast paced passing and movement. The Istanbul giants took more shots on target (10) than any other team in the league as they turned the hosts goal into a shooting range. It is worth noting that under Şenol Güneş Bursaspor scored the highest number of goals in the league last season. It is scary to think what he could achieve with what is a far stronger squad at Beşiktaş.
The goals kept flying in on Monday as Rizespor beat Ankara based Gençlerbirliği 3-2 at the 19 Mayıs stadium.