Trabzonspor finished second to Fenerbahçe in the league this past season due only to an inferior head-to-head record, and all along the Black Sea Storm has been crying foul, saying it was robbed of its championship by match-fixers.
But in a dramatic turn of events, the Storm has itself been accused of match-fixing, with its officials summoned to testify and three of its top officials referred to the PFDK on Monday. Morale at the club is at rock bottom, and anyone associated with the Storm has lost interest in football for the moment. The Trabzon players, who arrived in Bilbao on Tuesday, are therefore not in the best of moods before their match against Athletic Bilbao this evening. Chairman Sadri Şener implicitly warned on Monday that under these circumstances no one should expect the best from the Storm. “There is no enthusiasm for football anymore, no interest. ...How can the players concentrate in this atmosphere? We can’t go backward or forward, we’re stuck in the middle,” Şener said in response to a reporter’s question.
To add insult to injury, the Storm is depleted ahead of this match, with only a bare bones defense. Newly signed Ivoirian midfielder Didier Zokora is suspended, and there is also a long list of walking wounded including Polish defenders Adrian Mierzejewski and Piotr Czesław Brozek, Turkish defender Tayfun Cora and goalkeeper Onur Kıvrak. German-born forward Murat Tosun and former Galatasaray midfielder Barış Özbek are also in the club’s infirmary. These are hard times for the Storm, and the extent to which coach Şenol Güneş can motivate his players remain to be seen.