Trabzonspor started their season early against Irish outfit Derry City. As runners-up in the Turkish Cup, Trabzon qualified for the Europa League second-qualifying round. Winners Fenerbahçe were already qualified for the Champions League through league position. There is a lot more to mention concerning Fenerbahçe’s European qualification, of course, considering that the Canaries were banned from Europe for three years until the club made an appeal.
Trabzonspor – Derry City (Northern Irish club playing in the Republic’s League): Trabzon scored seven goals across two matches against Derry City, including three in Ireland. Derry, for their part, put up a good effort. The six-time Turkish champions conceded two away goals in the first half of the first match. Derry suffered an own-goal before half-time and centre-back Giray Kaçar scored a fourth to give Trabzon a two goal advantage. The second match in Northern Ireland finished 0-3 in Trabzon’s favour with Paulo Henrique scoring a double in the second half.
Dinamo Minsk – Trabzonspor: Trabzon were drawn against Belarusian side Dinamo Minsk in the third qualifying round. Trabzonspor got the ball moving quickly early on in the first match. Brazilian forward Henrique received an excellent pass from Volkan Şen and had a go at goal. Goalkeeper Alyaksandr Sulima was forced to make a save but the play was called offside.
In the thirty-ninth minute, Trabzon midfielder Adrian Mierzejewski dispossessed Slobodan Simović (get used to these kinds of names) in Dinamo’s half. Mierzejewski, who played for Poland at Euro 2012, passed the ball to Henrique who set up a one-timer for Olcan Adın. Adın shot from outside the keeper’s box and his shot was well above the bar.
Two minutes later, a seemingly benign play led to a breakthrough by Trabzon. Aykut Akgün passed the ball to advancing right-back Zeki Yavru. Yavru lofted the ball towards Gustavo Colman but Dinamo’s Nemanja Nikolić intercepted the ball. To his dismay, his header sent the ball behind his team’s defence and led Henrique clear on goal. Defender Sergei Kontsevoi could not catch up the play fast enough to prevent play and the Brazilian put the ball in the back of the net although Sulima got a hand to it.
Nine minutes after the first half break, Dinamo had an excellent chance by way of Lazar Veselinović. Veselinović carried the ball from just past the half-way line into Trabzon keeper Onur Kıvrak’s box. With three Trabzon players surrounding him and Onur quickly advancing, Veselinović took at a shot with his left foot. The ball came of the upright and back into play. Carles Coto got to the slow-spinning ball and had a shot but Czech defender Ondřej Čelůstka got crashed into Coto with the defender’s foot diverting the path of the ball. Onur caught the ball in the air.
Veselinović once again looked to provide a goal on the left wing. His pass to Hernan Fiqueredo hit the bar and the deflection came about chest-level to Olcan Adın who cleared the ball with his shoulder. The former Gaziantepspor playmaker proceeded to clear the ball and the chance was for nought.
Defender Sergei Politevich had a shot saved by Onur Kıvrak in the seventy-third minute. His free-kick was shot from about 5 metres outside of the keeper’s box and Onur reached into the top-right corner of the net with both arms stretched to push the weighted shot out of the danger zone.
In the eighty-first minute Henrique also hit the bar. After leaving the centre-backs out stretched Henrique took a shot from outside the box which hit the bar. Volkan Şen got to the rebound but the linesman raised the flag for offside.
Deep into stoppage time, Gustavo Colman approached Veselinović from behind with a high boot. The ball went out for a Dinamo throw-in but Veselinović pulled Colman’s arm as the Argentinian jogged back to his own half. The two locked heads and both teams rushed towards the incident either trying to separate or defend their own. Both Colman and Veselinović were shown red cards and Trabzon keeper Onur Kıvrak saw yellow.
The second match saw Trabzon exert even more dominance than the previous match. Without Lazar Veselinović because of his red card suspension, Dinamo lacked execution on the few chances they did get. Gustavo Colman also missed the match in Turkey but Trabzon have relied less on him for playmaking.
In the eighteenth minute, Henrique made well on a breakaway pass from Olcan Adın and was though on goal with an empty net in from of him. His show was diverted out by a sliding Aleksander Danilov. There was everything still to play for.
The first half came and went with Henrique, Adrian and Olcan all getting chances that left keeper Sulima making saves. In the thirty-seventh minute, Henrique headed Zeki Yavru`s lofted cross past Sulima but the position was called offside after Trabzon players Adrian and Volkan rushed to put the ball in the back of the net.
With everything to play for, the second half began with chances for Dinamo. Dinamo players sent several shots wide in the first minutes of the second half. Clearly frustrated, Dinamo Minsk kept looking for a breakthrough.
Igor Stasevich shot a free kick from the field’s left side, near the corner of the keeper’s box. His shot curved inside towards the right side of Onur’s goal forcing him to push the ball over his head and out of play.
In stoppage time, Henrique once again was clear on goal on the goalkeeper’s right side. He sent a low shot to the keeper’s left but the ball rolled past the post and out of play. With the last kick of the game Yusuf Erdoğan, substitute for Volkan, took a shot from outside the box which went above the bar.
Trabzonspor successfully held onto their lead from the first leg and were drawn against Albanian side Kukësi in the Europa League play-off round. Starting from the first qualifying round, the Albanian league second place side saw off Flora Talinn, FK Sarajevo and Metalurh Donetsk to get to this point.
Bursaspor were on their way into the Champions League just a month ago. Fenerbahçe were banned from UEFA competitions for three years after allegedly fixing the Süper Lig 2010/2011 season and Bursa were the next highest placed team which was not banned (third place Beşiktaş were banned as well but they have also appealed got their Europa League play-off spot back). Bursa had three different managers over the course of the 2012/2013 season but still had a respectable fourth-place finish.
Vojvodina – Bursaspor: Bursaspor were drawn against Serbian’s third-place team Vojvodina Novi Sad in the third qualifying round. In the first match in Serbia, Vojvodina conceded an away goal in the thirty-sixth minute as Bursa number ten Pablo Batalla converted from the penalty spot.
The chances dried up until the seventieth minute when right-back Vulićević scored for Vojvodina. The Serbian was on the left side of Bursa’s goal and outside of the keeper’s box. The team captain lofted the ball at goal and it curved inwards. Sebastien Frey mistimed his jump with the ball falling behind him into the netting. The home fans were ecstatic from the well-placed goal.
Ten minutes later, forward Andrija Kaluđerović crossed the ball from the right wing all the way to the opposite edge of the keeper’s box. The lofted cross met the head of Aboubakar Oumarou who diverted the ball directly to goal as Frey watched the ball bounce into the net after hitting the ground once.
Bursa had a few half chances in the closing minutes of the match but eventually scored through new transfer Taye Taiwo in the eighty-ninth minute. Enes headed the ball back across goal to Taiwo after receiving a corner kick and the Nigerian made no mistake and put the ball past the defender and keeper.
The return leg In Turkey got off to a bad start for Bursa as Aboubakar Oumarou headed a corner kick into the net. Both Frey and Şener Özbayraklı, who was guarding the post, fell into the net as the headed ball came towards them. They may have been confused by the position of Oumarou’s body as he extended his right leg just the ball hit his head and was sent towards the goal.
Twenty minutes later Frey looked poised to make a save from number ten Stojan Vranjes but the shot got tangled in Renato Civelli’s legs and was deflected into the net.
Minutes later, Stanislav Šesták almost gave Bursa a chance to recover when he hit the cross bar.
Late in the second half, Andria Kaludjerović, who had just come on for Oumaru in the sixty-ninth minute, gave Vojvodina their third away goal and finished off the match for good. Frey was once again not up to saving this half-chance although the former France international could claim to have had his vision obstructed by his centre-back.
All is not lost for Bursaspor though. Considering that Fenerbahçe could still be removed from European competition due to the Court for the Arbitration of Sport’s final decision on the matter. If both Beşiktaş’s and Fenerbahçe’s bans from UEFA competitions are upheld, Arsenal, the opponent of Fenerbahçe in the Champion’s League play-off round, will go through to the Champions League groups stage regardless of results. But the losers the Champions League play-offs will enter the Europa League group stage.
If Fenerbahçe is banned from European competition, there must be a team to replace Fenerbahçe in the Europa League group stage. FC Salzburg, the team that Fenerbahçe defeated in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, is playing in the Europa League play-off and could still qualify through that route.
Unless Beşiktaş both lose to Norwegian side Tromsø IL in the Europa League play-off and have their ban eliminated by CAS, Bursaspor is the only team that can replace Fenerbahçe.
This is ignoring other strategies UEFA could implement such as ‘taking the team with the highest coefficient (average of results over the past five years of European competition) among the Champions League play-off losers.’
Fenerbahçe started their European campaign with a trip to Austria. The Austrian Bundesliga was three weeks in so FC Salzburg, Fenerbahçe’s Champions League third qualifying round opponent, had already played competitive matches this season.
FC Salzburg – Fenerbahçe: Fenerbahçe came off as rusty and unsettled in their first competitive match of the season. The two teams initially traded chances but Salzburg came close to scoring by targeting the left wing; central midfielder Mehmet Topuz was standing in for injured regular Gökhan Gönül.
Salzburg made a breakthrough in the sixty-eighth minute when Alan Carvalho bypassed the defence and put the ball past Volkan Demirel. His excellent goal was all that separating the teams until the referee awarded Fenerbahçe a penalty in the second minute of stoppage time. Cristian Baroni, whose eyes were filled with tears when he missed a penalty against Benfica in April, took the penalty in the paradinha style in which the taker stops in the run-up to the ball.
Although the first match ended in favour of the Turkish side, Salzburg scored after only four minutes played In Istanbul. Jonathan Soriano scored from a low cross from Kevin Kampl Some could argue Fenerbahçe defender Bruno Alves was shoved to the ground as the cross came in.
Four minutes later, Raul Meireles scored a volley. Dirk Kuyt headed Moussa Sow’s cross to an approaching Meireles and the right edge of his right foot met the ball, sending keeper Peter Gulácsi the wrong way. The stadium erupted and Meireles himself looked stunned at what he had just done as his teammates rushed to celebrate with him.
Senegalese international Moussa Sow scored from another Drik Kuyt assist. With the Salzburg defence in disorderly Kuyt received a back-heel pass from Pierre Webó and passed to Sow. Sow caught the ball on his left foot and tapped in the air, spun around, and hit it into the bottom right corner of the goal.
There calls for a penalty after the last match’s goal-scorer Alan Carvalho handled the ball in the box defending a corner but the referee did not award it.
Fenerbahçe scored again through Pierre Webó’s excellent lesson in finishing in the thirty-fourth minute. Cristian kicked a cleared ball in the air and passed to Sow who, with his back to the goal, sent Webó past the defence. Webó kicked the ball ahead of himself to seemingly bait Gulácsi and then chipped the ball above the advancing keeper. The Canaries were up 4-2 on aggregate.
In the first half’s stoppage time Carvalho found Volkan on the edge of his box and took a shot. The ball deflected off of Volkan and Marco Meillinger found the ball at his feet. He took a shot at the virtually empty net but Mehmet Topal blocked the shot.
Redbull Salzburg had many chances in the second half – including a disallowed goal for offside. But the match ended 3-1 in the home side`s favour.
All teams in the Champions League play-off except Fenerbahçe are guaranteed continental football come September – the winners of the Champions League play-off draws will play in the Champions League group stage and the loses will play in the Europa League group stage. Fenerbahçe’s entry remains controversial (as explained in the Bursaspor section of this article) but the Canaries will face English side Arsenal FC in the play-off round.
Another Turkish side in legal limbo is last season’s third place side Beşiktaş. Beşiktaş will play Norwegian team Tromsø IL.
After disappointing pre-season friendlies, which included losses to the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Slaven Bilić faces a tough task in starting the league against Trabzonspor and travelling to Norway says later.
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