Thursday, March 17, 2016

Turkey March 2016

Four games in Turkey including see Fenerbahce, Besiktas and the new stadium in Antalya.

Topal top.

10th March  Fenerbahce 1 Sporting Braga 0  Europa League  40,197  (c. 30 away)

I arrived on this Thursday afternoon and took the Havas bus to Taksim.

With its fragmented metro and tram system plus clogged roads Istanbul usually presents a challenge to moving around.
There isn’t really a perfect hotel location, and so Taksim, with its restaurants, is usually as good as any.

For this well attended Europa League first leg game I took the metro via Yenikapi to Ayrilik Cesmesi then walked the rest.
I also ended up walking around the stadium a few times due to Passolig issues.

That meant I missed the early part of the match - though probably not too much action.  
(Except the choreo)
Because it was a cautious encounter with few serious threats on goal.

In a way 0-0 would have been not too bad for either side, no away goal against the home side and a draw to take back for the visitors.
However that situation did change on 82 minutes when Mehmet Topal broke through the centre and shot into the corner for a fine winner.

Slightly earlier Josue had tested Volkan Demirel in the home goal and that was the nearest Braga came.
Behind the goal the fans roared their delight at the Fener winner and they can have decent expectations that their side can progress.
Especially if it becomes another very tight encounter.

Up front for the home side Robin van Persie did what he does, the occasional left foot strike but with few real chances.

I trekked back via the metro to Taksim and watched the latter part of Liverpool v Man Utd while being engulfed by (hookah pipe) smoke.

Five star.

11th March  Istanbulspor 5 Bayrampasa 0  2.Liga  c. 350 (c. 50 away)

This third tier match was played at 2-30pm on Friday afternoon in the Istanbul suburbs out near Ataturk airport.
Both sets of fans brought drums and instruments to provide a constant background of noise.

It was not Carnegie Hall quality but neither was the match.

But it did have some early controversy when Demerci broke through the away defence and shot past a static goalie on just 2 minutes. It all happened with a home player lying injured and brought a storm of protest from the Bayrampasa players.

Not for the first time such a situation has caused problems.
Eventually it calmed down and we had a period of little goalmouth action before tall striker Kusey slide in number two just before the interval.

Despite having more possession the visitors failed to create much and never produced a telling final ball.
It got worse for them after the break as Istanbulspor ran in three more goals, including one in the 61.5th minute from number 61.

The result meant the home side continue to challenge for promotion.

It took about an hour or so to get back to my hotel.

Afterwards I enjoyed some shashlik and red wine.

Besiktas best.

12th March  Rizespor 1 Besiktas 2  Super League   c. 11,000 (c. 500 away)

Rize is near the Black Sea and it is reachable via Trabzon and, in my case, Havas bus.

The weather was cooler than Istanbul, especially later in the evening.
But it did stay dry though.

The relatively new Rizespor stadium is a few miles/km out to the east - I walked then took a dolmus to get there.
Its a neat medium sized single tier ground with away sections to the left hand end/side.
As you might expect Besiktas brought a lively group of fans.

And the team from Istanbul delivered what was in the end a fairly comfortable three points.

But it might have been different if Deniz Kadah had taken his two golden chances.

Besiktas edged ahead on 14 minutes when Sosa neatly chipped a free kick over the wall.

Then a couple of minutes later we had a penalty awarded to the home side. Initially  the referee would deny it but, and it seemed the officials had disagreed,  eventually it was signalled as a spotkick.
Sadly for the home fans Kadah’s shot was well saved.

His opportunity for redemption came some minutes later when a cross found him unmarked but his header hit the bar.

Besiktas took advantage when a combination move delivered Kerim Frei with an easy finish for 0-2.

That was the half time score.

And the team from Istanbul continued to control midfield with Sosa, Sahan and Frei prominent.
They often set up Mario Gomez (on loan from Fiorentina) but the German either shot wide or had his efforts blocked by Charles Itandje in the home goal.

It never looked like Rizespor would get back into it but they did get a late consolation when a high ball reached Teddy Chevalier and he drove past Zengin.
But it was too little too late.

The home fans drifted away and the Besiktas ultras bounced up and down.
Their team would overtake Fenerbahce, and be top at least for a while.

My plan after Rize was to fly to Antalya but the weather (fog) intervened and I remained in Trabzon, courtesy of Turkish Airlines, and travelled on the Monday.

Et Too, Samuel.

14th March Antalyaspor 3 Bursaspor 0  Super League  c. 15,000 (c. 300 away)

Antalya have a fine new stadium out towards the Konyaalti beach area.
There is a convenient shopping nearby where your correspondent could relax in Starbucks.

Unlike many of the new builds I felt this stadium had something extra with its two tiered sides and attractive 3 ‘box levels’ behind each goal. The roof and external image are also well presented.
Inside the audio system is at an excruciating decibel level - the dial was turned up to eleven I think.

And the noisy ultras, situated at either end, combined well with other parts of the ground. A group of away fans were ensconced in the lower right corner.

The game itself featured ageing star Cameroon Samuel Eto’o up front for Antalyaspor.
He may be 35 years old but he still caused Bursa problems with his intelligent play.

The first half featured few chances but some good work from Jean Makoun in midfield for the home side and the occasional threat from Pablo Batalla for the visitors.
Generally Antalya offered more and they began the second period on the front foot.

On 49 a Makoun shot was deflected wide and the subsequent corner reached defender de Oliveira who volleyed in left footed for 1-0.

The game immediately stepped up a gear.

And then entered our hero - firstly deciding not to shoot when seemingly clear Eto’o was on hand to divert in a corner for number 2.

The higher ranked Bursaspor then had a penalty appeal denied though it did look soft anyway.
And the nearest they came to scoring was when an effort clipped the post late on.
Otherwise it was a moderate performance by the visitors.

The clincher came on 88 minutes with a breakaway chance that reached Eto’o who set substitute striker Sismanoglu through only for him to be brought down in the area.
Red for the Bursa defender and up steps Samuel - his shot is saved but he dispatches the rebound.
Fans salute our man and he, to some extent, repays that presumably large wage bill.

So a useful three points for Antalyaspor.

I strolled back towards the beach and had a nightcap before the flight back, via Istanbul, to London the following day.

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