Saturday, August 18, 2007

New-Look Fenerbahce Drops Gaziantep 2-1


New-Look Fenerbahce Drops Gaziantepspor 2-1
Zico's Lineup Changes Pay Off With Three Points
By Nathan L. Redd
Zico's new-look lineup paid off on Saturday as Fenerbahce picked up their first points of the season. Fenerbahce dropped visiting Gaziantepspor 2-1 at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium. Zico stuck to his decision of making lineup changes, going with nearly a completely new starting lineup. No Roberto Carlos, Alex de Souza, Diego Lugano, Mateja Kezman, etc. for the Canaries on Saturday. Instead, fans got a great look at some of the new signings from the offseason.
Kemal Aslan put Fenerbahce on the board early with an easy goal in the 7th minute. Less than eight minutes later, Semih Senturk received a great pass and put the ball past the Gaziantepspor goalkeeper Omer for Fenerbahce's second goal. Fenerbahce got an improved defensive performance for most of the first half, and the two-goal lead took some of the pressure off Volkan Demirel, who started in goal instead of Serdar Kulbilge. However, Gaziantepspor put themselves back in the game just before the halftime break as De Negris put a fantastic header past Volkan to put the scoreline at 2-1. Fenerbahce dominated most of the first half in time of possession as well as play. Selcuk Sahin, Mehmet Aurelio, and Colin Kazim-Richards all had fantastic opportunities to increase the lead for Fenerbahce but couldn't find the back of the net.
Fenerbahce looked a little sluggish in the second half for the second straight league game, but the defense preserved the lead. The usual Fener starters looked on from the bench as Colin Kazim-Richards, Semih Senturk, Gokcek Wederson, Ali Bilgin, and Yasin Cakmak made the most of their opportunities on the pitch.
It remains to be seen if Zico was making a point to his starters who played so poorly in the opener, or if big lineup changes are indeed in store. The first two league games and the UEFA Champions League first leg have shown that the Canaries are far from their fitness condition so far this season.
Fenerbahce will now look to their next opponent, Sivasspor, who travels to Sukru Saracoglu Stadium next weekend. In three league games and one UEFA Champions League matchup, Fenerbahce has yet to leave the city of Istanbul. Sivasspor and Fenerbahce will battle on Saturday, 25 August at 18:45 (11:45 AM EST in the U.S.).

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