Friday, December 21, 2007

Fenerbahce - Trabzonspor: Match Preview

Fenerbahce - Trabzonspor: Match Preview
By Ozgur R. Nazilli

Now that the suspense over the European Champions League draw is over (which handed a pretty tough opponent to Fenerbahce, but then again, at this stage of Champions League, who isn't a tough opponent?), Fener fans can finally concentrate back on the Turkish League, with no European games for the next 2 months.

Fenerbahce have been going through one tough match after the other for the past few weeks, and did very well so far, with 4 consecutive wins in the Turkish League, crowned by a CSKA Moscow win. However, Fener's work is far from being done for the first half of the season, with still a derby-like match to go against Trabzonspor.

Trabzon, touted as the 4th biggest team in Turkey by many, has always been a tough game for Fenerbahce. For the past few years, Fenerbahce has been beating Trabzon, but never with a comfortable margin. Looking at the past, Fener have not lost a single league game to Trabzon for 6 years, with the most recent victory of Trabzon being a 2-1 win in December, 2001. However, during this 6 year period, Fener only managed to win 2 games with a margin of 2 goals or more, and the most recent one was back in 2004. This shows that even though Fener has an advantage over Trabzon, the players had to grind out the victory each and every time, with Trabzon never giving an easy time to Fenerbahce.

The last game between the two sides was back in May 2007 in ─░zmir, which ended in a 2-2 draw. That game was especially significant for the Fener side, as it also marked the point at which Fenerbahce had won the 2006-2007 Turkish League.

Fenerbahce's team has undergone a big change in the past 7 months since the last game against Trabzonspor, which cost them the likes of Tuncay, who had scored the first goal against Trabzon in the 2-2 draw, but fortified them with a living legend, Roberto Carlos, who brought in more than just his experience. With the coming of Carlos, Fenerbahce has become a different team. It is true that the efforts of Zico and Alex also played important roles in this change towards the better Fenerbahce is going through, but no one can argue against the fact that the presence of Roberto Carlos instills courage and self belief in every Fener player on the pitch, which made it possible for them to beat a European giant, Internazionale, and qualify out of the Champions League groups with a record number of 11 points.

Fenerbahce has built a good momentum now, and Zico and his players will be looking to keep it rolling into the winter break. However, Trabzonspor has also been regrouping and climbing up the spots in the Turkish League, with two wins in the last two games.

It will surely be a difficult game for Fener, especially since the defensive duo of Edu and Lugano are both unavailable for the game due to yellow cards. However, Fenerbahce are still the favorites to come out on top, as they always are in home games.


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