Monday, August 13, 2007

Fenerbahce Hopes for Fresh Start Against Anderlecht

Fenerbahce Hopes for Fresh Start Against Anderlecht
By Nathan L. Redd

When Fenerbahce takes the pitch on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, they hope they won't be able to recognize or remember the team that took the pitch against IBB Spor. Fenerbahce looked like a deer in headlights when IBB Spor came out attacking and scored their first goal less than 20 minutes in. The team seemed resigned to a loss going into halftime with a 2-0 deficit.

Unfortunately we could not make the good start like we had wanted" said Fenerbahce Manager Zico. "I am saying this because of the dissatisfaying performance of my players. It seemed like we did not fight to get the 3 points. Istanbul Büyüksehir Belediyespor did everything a team should do in order to win. We could not reflect our passion on the pitch."

Zico's last line could be an understatement. Passion was only one thing lacking with the team on Friday. Defense was another. Can Arat, Ugur Boral, and Deniz Baris all found themselves out of position more than once, costing Fenerbahce two goals. To Fenerbahce's credit, they were playing without stars Alex de Souza, Stephen Appiah, and Diego Lugano. Fans hope the stars' absence explains the performance, but Fenerbahce still should have had no problems with the newly-promoted Istanbul outfit. According to Hurriyet's Emre Kizilkaya, Fenerbahce's current squad is valued at 90 Million Euros, while IBB Spor's is valued at 15 Million Euros. Both of IBB Spor's biggest stars are former Fenerbahce players.

Fenerbahce hopes to take the pitch looking much different against Anderlecht this week. Maybe they took IBB Spor too lightly, maybe they were caught looking ahead to Anderlecht. Whatever the reason, Fenerbahce needs to come out firing against Anderlecht at home. Sukru Saracoglu will be rocking, and fans won't be satisfied with anything less than a win and hopefully two or more goals on aggregate heading back to Belgium.

"You cannot win a game or defeat a team just by having a great history. You have to work and fight hard, that was exactly what Istanbul B.B. has done to defeat us" said Zico after the game. Every team has a game like this on occasion; it just usually isn't the first game of the season. Fenerbahce looked lost and confused, while IBB Spor looked like a team not just content with promotion, but hoping to stay in the Super Lig for a while. Hopefully Friday's performance was a case of Fener taking their opponent too lightly and looking ahead to Anderlecht. Zico knows that some changes must be made going into the game though. Mateja Kezman publicly stated over the summer that he felt more comfortable with another striker alongside him, but Zico has remained adamant about keeping Kezman alone up top. With Alex in the lineup, Fener has another big goal-scoring threat, but will it be enough to produce enough offense for a successful championship run?

After a year away from the UEFA Champions League and a disappointing finish in the UEFA Cup, Fener fans are hungry for a deep run into European play. The club hopes that run begins on Wednesday, and that fans will quickly forget about the team that took the pitch at Ataturk Stadium on Friday night.


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