The Turkish Super League kicks off with last year’s runner-up, Fenerbahçe, taking on Eskişehirspor in Istanbul, the first game of a season which will be marked by tens of millions of dollars in summer signings by both title contenders and weaker teams alike.
Fenerbahçe has already added eight new players into its cadre, including two Manchester United world stars, Robin van Persie and Portuguese winger Nani, and is building up a new game strategy under the latter’s countryman, coach Vitor Pereira.
The transfers, often credited to new sportive Giuliano Terraneo, did not compare to last year, in which the Yellow Canaries signed only Brazilian midfielder Diego Ribas.
Last year’s Turkish league top scorer Jose Fernandao, his teammates from Bursaspor, Ozan Tufan and Şener Özbayraklı, Porto’s Abdoulaye Ba and Fabiano Ribeiro, Sao Paulo’s Josef de Souza and Lille’s Simon Kjaer are the other newcomers to Fenerbahçe, who parted ways with nine players, including Dutch star Dirk Kuyt and former captain Emre Belezoğlu.
Still, the new Fener line-up, when Senagalese striker Mousa Sow is added, is likely to give a hard time to Eskişehirspor, which has had only one away win against Fenerbahçe in 28 games, though both teams bowed to draws in the last two league games last year.
However, Fenerbahçe was not the only team to take advantage of a new code that allows teams to employ up to 14 foreign players.
Galatasaray, who reinforced its club with German striker Lukas Podolski, will visit Medicana Sivasspor Aug. 15, at a good time to travel to the eastern province not famous for sunny weather. The defending champion Lions also managed to keep Uruguay international goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and van Persie’s international teammate, Wesley Sneijder, in the fold.
Trabzonspor and Bursaspor, who fought hard for a spot last year to be qualified for the UEFA Europa League, a race ultimately won by the Black Sea club, will also face off Aug. 15.
Senegalese striker Dame N’Doye is the leading gun that joined Trabzon from the Premier League’s Hull City.
Lazio right-back Luis Pedro Cavanda and Sevilla’s Cameroonian defensive midfielder Stephane M’bia are the other leading transfers of Trabzon, which added more than a dozen new players to the squad. However, the home side did not have a good start this year, as it was knocked out of the Europa League by Macedonian underdogs Rabotnicki.
Antalyaspor, which will visit Istanbul’s Medipol Başakşehirspor, is back on top and made headlines when it signed world-famous striker Samuel Eto’o, along with many Turkish players. Başakşehir’s lead transfer was Fener’s former Galatasaray, Inter, New Castle and Atletico Madrid player Belözoğlu.
Beşiktaş, which is facing financial burdens and a delay in the opening of its new stadium on the ground of the now demolished legendry İnönü, will travel to southern Turkey to take the Mersin İdmanyurdu test with one of its former stars on the plane: Ricardo Quaresma, also known as Q7 by fans.
The 31-year-old Portuguese winger, who had played for Beşiktaş between 2010 and 2013, resigned with the club this year following a successful season at Porto.
Beşiktaş fans are also curious to watch Mario Gomez, the German international who signed a loan deal after two years at Fiorentina, his countryman Andreas Beck and Brazilian center back Rhodolfo.
The leading handicap of Beşiktaş, whose frontline is now decorated with talented Turkish and foreign players, might be a totally new line up at the back.
The same day, Torku Konyaspor will host Akhisar Belediye, as newcomers, Osmanlıspor and Kayserispor will meet in Ankara. Gaziantepspor will take on Kasımpaşa. Gençlerbilriği will play home against Çaykur Rizespor on the last game of the first week on Aug. 17.