Europa League – Trabzonspor Report

Legia face off against Turkish giants Trabzonspor in their third Europa League game of the campaign tonight, knowing a victory is a must if they want to stay in the competition. EKSTRAKLASAreview spoke to Turkish-Football.com‘s Emre Sarigul to get the lowdown on the group’s joint-leaders.

How did Trabzonspor qualify for the Europa League?

Trabzonspor qualified for the Europa League as runners up in the Turkish Cup. The Black Sea Storm ended up losing the final 1-0 to rivals Fenerbahçe and actually finished the league in 9th position – their worst finish in the last decade.

How are they currently performing in the Turkish League?

Trabzonspor are undefeated in their last 5 league games. The club are in quite good form, however, have been heavily reliant on their defending. Trabzonspor have only conceded 6 goals this season but on the flip side they have only scored 6 times – only the last placed two teams in the league have scored less. The team have problems in the final third, a recurring problem which has been carried over from last season.

With four points from their two games, Trabzonspor sit joint top of the group with Lazio. Will that have been expected?

Trabzonspor have had an excellent European campaign so far if you factor in their qualification process, the Black Sea Storm are undefeated in their last 8 games and really should have defeated Lazio. Not a lot is expected from Trabzonspor this season, the club are in transition after last seasons disastrous campaign. The club are focusing on promoting players from their satellite club Trabzon 1461 into the team and moving away from making costly transfers which have pushed the club into mounting debts. The lack of pressure has helped Trabzonspor, they are playing controlled, defensive, counter attacking football and have a good team ethic.

Without a win in their opening two games, Legia will not be happy with their start, and will need to get a result against Trabzonspor if they want to remain in the competition. But surely Trabzonspor fans will not be happy with nothing other that a win on Thursday?

Trabzonspor fans are fanatical, the region of Trabzon has the highest ratio of fans per city. In other words the percentage of people that support Trabzonspor in the city/region of Trabzon is higher than any other city or region in Turkey. Recent polls suggest that over 70% of the regions population supports Trabzonspor. The home crowd always expect their side to win and create a great atmosphere in home games. Trabzon is a city obsessed with football, they will expect nothing less than a win against Legia.

Adrian Mierzejewski is the player that Legia fans will know the most about, having played for their rivals Polonia as well as the Polish national team. How integral is he to Trabzonspor’s side?

Adrian is one of the most technically gifted players Trabzonspor have at their disposal and when he turns it on he’s capable of brilliance but he can be wildly inconsistent. If Adrian turns up he will be the main creative threat whereas if he decided he doesn’t care about today’s game Trabzonspor will struggle in the final third.

And what do you think is a realistic target for Trabzonspor to achieve from their Europa league campaign?

Making it out of the group stages will be an achievement for Trabzonspor this season, as I mentioned earlier the club is in transition and are being allowed time to build this season.

Which part of the Trabzonspor team is their strongest, and could cause the most problems for Legia?

Trabzonspor’s strength is their defence however, Adrian has the ability to create something out of nothing and Malouda as well as Bosingwa have lots of experience at this level. Also Paulo Henrique has been impressive in Europe, the powerful Brazilian striker is fast and in Europe at least has a pretty impressive record

Which area is the team’s weakest? What can Legia try to exploit?

Trabzonspor’s main weakness is their lack of quality in the final third, the team have players capable of creating chances but they can be very unpredictable, if Legia defend well they will be able to frustrate Trabzonspor and hit them on the break.

Who is their key player?

Trabzonspor don’t have a key player, they are well discipline and organised as a team and don’t have any major stars. However, Malouda and Bosingwa have experience and Adrian is capable of creating magic.

What can you tell us about the club’s coach?

Mustafa Akçay embodies what the Trabzonspor of the future want to stand for, he has worked in the clubs youth setup for years and was successful recently coaching the clubs satellite club Trabzon 1461. He knows the club inside out, has the full backing of staff and management and has a glowing record working with young players. Trabzonspor have produced and developed some of the leagues best talents in recent years ie Burak Yilmaz, Selcuk Inan, Umut Bulut, Onur Kivrak, Tolga Zengin, Egemen Korkmaz in recent years but due to an awful transfer and contract policy lost most of these players many of whom have gone onto win league titles and play Champions League football for next to nothing. Mustafa has been focusing on defence

Possible line-up:

Onur, Bosingwa, Aykut, Bamba, Mustafa, Olcan, Adrian, Zokora, Malouda, Henrique, Janko

Score prediction:

1-0 Trabzonspor

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