RACHEL – UEFA ban and rivalry at home leave mark on football

UEFA ban and rivalry at home leave mark on footballAnother eventful year in Turkish football has passed, one which saw Fenerbahe win the Spor Toto Super League title and Galatasaray the Ziraat Turkish Cup, but neither made much of themselves abroad.The league champion continued to serve its ban from UEFA competitions due to a still unresolved match-fixing row, so the Yellow Canaries were forced to watch runner-up Galatasaray do miserably in its Champions League group.

Meanwhile, Fenerbahe winning the championship brought its rivalry with Galatasaray to new heights. The teams are drawn even for the most successful with 19 titles apiece, and the 20th championship is important, as it will warrant a fourth star on the teamandrsquos logo.

The unofficial theme of this season has thus become a race to historical dominance.But it is not that simple: BeIiktaI was the strongest Turkish club in the first half of the season, both in Europe and at home.

It is all very fitting, as this yearandrsquos Spor Toto Super League bears the name of Suleyman Seba, the legendary BeIiktaI chairman who passed away this summerAbroad in 2014The Lions had performed well in the 2013-14 Champions League, aancing as far as they ever had, with a last 16 finish after losing 3-1 to Chelsea on aggregate. Galatasaray crumbled this year, finishing dead last in its group.

BeIiktaI was knocked out of the playoffs by a 1-0 aggregate loss to Arsenal, but the Black Eagles live on in Europa, as does TrabzonsporItalian Roberto Mancini was ejected due to the Lionsandrsquo trouble at home last season and was replaced by worse-faring compatriot Cesare Prandelli, who was out of the way before the year ended. He was one of the many managers to leave prematurely.

A record 14 coaches were switched last season and eight clubs have changed coaches this season.Prandelli was one of two coaches Turkey picked up fresh from World Cup campaigns.

The other was Trabzonsporandrsquos Vahid Halilhodzic, who reformed the team but got such poor results he also left before the season was half overUnfortunately for Turkey, leftover coaches and players constitute the most action that came of the World Cup. The national team watched Brazil 2014 from home after failing to qualify.

Now the Turks are struggling to earn a place in Euro 2016. In Group A, Turkey trails the Czech Republic, Iceland and the Netherlands by eight, five and two points, respectively.

Turkey defeated Kazakhstan and drew Latvia to earn four points in four matches.Kardemir Karabukspor made its Europa debut in the third qualifying round, where it edged Rosenborg on away goals, but St-Etienne eliminated the club in a shootout after drawing 1-1 in playoffs.

Bursaspor entered the second qualifying round, but was also knocked out on penalties after two goalless draws with ChikhuraPlayer of the Year: Burak YIlmazPlayer of the year is none other than Turkey and Galatasaray striker Burak YIlmaz. He came in a close second for most prolific scorer in the Super League last season and is the Lionsandrsquo top goal scorer in the Champions League.

He is also the sole reason Turkey won one match in the Euro 16 qualifiers, scoring a brace in a 3-1 defeat of Kazakhstan.Team of the Year: BeIiktaIBeIiktaI is rightfully the team of the year and may win the Super League title in 2015.

The Black Eagles lead defending champion Fenerbahe by two points, Galatasaray by three, and are performing with flair and panache in the Europa League after finishing top in Group C Coach of the Year: Ersun YanalTraining the Yellow Canaries is a high-pressure job, but coach of the year Ersun Yanal handled it well enough in his debut to take home the championship in 2014. He left before the new season started and is now trying to pull Trabzon out of a mire of bad results.

Flop of the Year: GalatasarayThe Lions, as Galatasaray is also called, are a flop for turning a group of world-class players into losers under underachieving Italian coach Cesare Prandelli. Hopefully new coach Hamza HamzaoIlu and a fresh slate in 2015 will see some improvement in Galatasaray — and Turkey in general — at least enough to get the national team into a competition again.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman