Bursaspor, also known as the Green Crocs, takes on Eskişehirspor away on Sunday afternoon in the Super Final’s Europa League group, four days after defeating Eskişehir 3-0 in the Ziraat Turkish Cup semifinals.
Despite facing a 50-50 chance of winning the Turkish Cup and earning an automatic berth in next year’s Europa League, coach Ertuğrul Sağlam’s Bursaspor still aims to take the top spot of their Europa League group. The team that finishes at the top of the group as a result of these six games will play another round of the playoffs with the team that takes the bottom spot in the championship playoffs in order to qualify for the Europa League, the second-tier European club competition. Both competitions promise the same destination -- Europe -- to the winner, but prestige is at stake in both, and Bursaspor is after an advantageous position that will guarantee a ticket to the Europa League. The club hopes to start the celebrations for its 50th year anniversary next year with the Turkish Cup and as a team qualified to play in the Europa League.
“Bursa will celebrate its 50th year in 2013. We want to put the Turkish Cup next to the championship cup we won before,” Sağlam told reporters at a press conference after Wednesday’s semifinal game against Eskişehir.
Bursaspor could not start the Europa League group on a positive note, being stunned 4-0 by Sivasspor in the debut game only three days after they defeated the Sivas team 4-1 and eliminated them from the Turkish Cup. They defeated İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi 3-2 in the second group game at home and made a comeback to keep rolling in the playoffs. Sağlam’s players will try to avoid the same fate as Sivasspor in the Turkish Cup and avoid another easy defeat following their easy victory against the same opponent.
Eskişehirspor, on the other hand, looks tired and disappointed after losing to Bursaspor in the playoffs for the Europa League on Wednesday. Coach Ersun Yanal blamed the changes on the system and the arrival of the Super Final for his players’ exhaustion, but he was happy to see his team was able to attract thousands of fans to its semifinal cup game, which took place in İzmir.
“Winning the Turkish Cup was the shortcut to the Europa League, but we were late in showing our desire to win,” he said following Wednesday’s game. He added: “We are not off target yet [of winning the playoffs]. We have two more games to play against Bursaspor.”
The system of having both Super Final and Europa League groups, each consisting of four teams, was implemented in the middle of the season amidst a match-fixing investigation that has rocked Turkish football since last summer. It was decided this season that the third and fourth-place holders as well as the Turkish Cup winner would go to on the second-tier European competition.
Yanal said it is hard for players to play two games each week in this new system and that he hopes there will be a return to the old system again soon. Going into the week three match of the Europa League, Sivasspor leads with 29 points, trailed by Bursaspor by one point.