Friday, November 02, 2007

Derby Day: Fenerbahce vs. Besiktas

Derby Day: Fenerbahce vs. Besiktas
By Nathan L. Redd

With ten games under their belts, the Turkcell Super Lig season is in full swing. However, many fans don't give their full attention to futbol until the derbies roll around. For Fenerbahce, this weekend marks the first of the big Istanbul derbies, with cross-town rivals Besiktas coming to Kadikoy.

Both Fenerbahce and Besiktas have great success in their sights this year. Besiktas is coming off a huge victory over Liverpool at Inonu Stadium last week. Fenerbahce is sitting in second place in their UEFA Champions League group after impressive performances against Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, and PSV Eindhoven. Both teams know, however, that the path to UEFA Champions League glory requires success in the Turkcell Super Lig. Both squads will be looking to get tuned up against each other as Besiktas will travel to Liverpool next week and Fener will play host to PSV Eindhoven in Kadikoy.

Despite the game being at Sukru Saracoglu, history is on the side of the Black Eagles. Besiktas has not lost a league game in Kadikoy in six years. After their impressive Liverpool win, Besiktas was caught looking ahead with a 2-1 loss to Caykur Rizespor in the Fortis Turkiye Cup earlier this week. The Eagles were no doubt looking ahead to the clash with Fenerbahce; something that did not sit well with Manager Ertugral Saglam. "Starting from the Fenerbah├že match we have to play more courageously, ambitiously and at a higher tempo. We disappointed the board and our fans. We must get a win against Fenerbah├že in order to make up for our cup defeat" Saglam told reporters after the match.

Fenerbahce Manager Zico used the Fortis Turkiye Cup to get his young players some valuable experience while giving a rest to the usual starters. The new lineup resulted in a scoreless draw against Gaziantepspor, but he knows that his players will be geared up to face rivals Besiktas at home. Fenerbahce started off the Turkcell Super Lig season slowly, but the Yellow Canaries have kicked it into gear in recent weeks. A Fenerbahce win on Saturday will help them jump over Besiktas in the standings, and could catapult them into a tie with Sivasspor for second place pending their result. Unlike two years ago, Fenerbahce would like to make moves in the Super Lig prior to the final weeks and control their own destiny.

Both lineups will have questions on Saturday. Besiktas superstar striker Bobo and defensive stopper Gokhan Zan both missed practices this week with the flu, but reports indicate that both will play on Saturday. Ibrahim Toraman, Serdar Kurtulus, and former Canary Marcio Nobre are all expected to miss Saturday's derby with injuries. Fenerbahce star Mateja Kezman is out for at least the next month after having knee surgery earlier this week, and starting goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge is also out with a knee injury. Midfielder Stephen Appiah has seen his minutes increase in recent weeks after missing several months with an injury, and reports indicate he is nearly 100% and should play a pivotal role in Saturday's match.

Fenerbahce and Besiktas kickoff at 19:00 (1 PM EST in the U.S.) from Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Kadikoy. Lig TV will carry the game in Turkiye and on Digiturk Satellite worldwide. For those without Digiturk Satellite, the game is available on pay-per-view from http://www.digiturkwebtv.com/ for $12.95.

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