Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fenerbahce Under Huge Pressure Against Anderlecht

Fenerbahce Under Huge Pressure Against Anderlecht
By Nathan L. Redd

After a disappointing failure in the UEFA Cup last season, Fenerbahce boss Aziz Yildirim set out to improve the team and build a squad worthy of making a run into the UEFA Champions League. He signed one of the world's biggest stars in Roberto Carlos, then pursued some of the best Turkish players to surround and compliment him. With the second leg of the UEFA Champions League match vs. Anderlecht just hours away, it's put-up or shut-up time for Fenerbahce.

Fener has six points from their first three Turkcell Super Lig games and an impressive win over Besiktas in the Turkish Super Cup. Despite the points, Fener has looked less-than-impressive in the wins. The team is also still trying to find its chemistry and the perfect eleven headed into the Anderlecht match. Zico was so frustrated after the season opening loss that he has made major changes in the lineup since. The new look has produced points, but it hasn't given the team the offensive firepower fans were hoping for. Last weekend's only goal came from Roberto Carlos, a player not expected to produce many goals for Fener. Mateja Kezman has struggled so far, and Alex de Souza is still finding his legs after being injured for several months.

Fenerbahce hoped for a 2-0 or 3-0 decision in the Anderlecht first leg, but a slim 1-0 lead will carry over to Belgium on Wednesday. Fener knows they will have to play much, much better if they hope to advance and keep their European hopes alive this year. Fenerbahceli's are hungry for success, and nothing less than a deep run into the UEFA Champions League group stage will satiate that hunger. Fener has a tough task on Wednesday, and they'll face it head-on without the services of starting goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge who is injured. Regardless, if Fenerbahce hopes to build its European reputation, Wednesday will be the first step.

Kickoff from Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels, Belgium is set for 21:30 (2:30 PM EST in the U.S.) on Wednesday.

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