Turkish top football division Spor Toto Super League's 75-day-break will be ending on Friday, with Fenerbahce and Eskisehirspor going head to head in Istanbul for the opening game of what promises to be a star-studded season.
The new season will be dedicated to one of the deceased chairs of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), Hasan Dogan. Dogan died of heart attack during his term in 2008.
The previous season, which finished on May 30, 2015, with Galatasaray declared the champions, was dedicated to former Besiktas player and chairman Suleyman Seba, who died on August 13, 2014 at the age of 88.
Eighteen teams will be competing against each other over nine months, and 306 matches will be played.
Many football stars such as Dutch forward Robin van Persie, Portuguese winger Nani, German forwards Lukas Podolski and Mario Gomez, and Cameroonian forward Samuel Eto'o will make their debut in the Turkish Super League this season.
Fenerbahce bring in Manchester United stars
Having lost the league title to their archrivals Galatasaray, Fenerbahce feature a number of new signings to have a better shot this season.
The Istanbul club purchased Manchester United stars, Dutch forward van Persie and Portuguese winger Nani. In addition to former "Red Devils" players, Fenerbahce bought Danish center-back Simon Kjaer from Lille, Brazilian defensive midfielder Josef de Souza from Sao Paulo and Porto goalkeeper Fabiano.
They also signed Bursaspor's Brazilian striker Fernandao, who was the top scorer of the last season in Turkey with 22 goals.
Moreover, Slovakian winger Miroslav Stoch returned to the club after playing abroad on loan.
Fenerbahce parted ways with many regulars. Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt moved to Feyenoord on free transfer. Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike was loaned to UAE team Al-Ain for a season. Turkish powerhouse in midfielder, Emre Belozoglu left the club for another Turkish Super League side, Medipol Basaksehir, after his deal with the Yellow Canaries expired.
Fenerbahce were handed defeat by Ukrainian giants Shakhtar Donetsk on 3-0 aggregate in UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, and are heading out to the second tier UEFA Europa League's playoffs.
Galatasaray add German forward to their squad
Defending Spor Toto Super League winners, Galatasaray transferred Arsenal's German international Lukas Podolski to strengthen their forward line.
Galatasaray, who are the most time winners of the Turkish Super League with 20 league titles, managed to keep some key players on board, including Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, Brazilian defensive midfielder Felipe Melo, Dutch attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Turkish striker Burak Yilmaz.
Latest league champions Galatasaray directly qualify for the Europe's top-tier international tournament UEFA Champions League’s group stage.
Besiktas fortify the ranks with Gomez and Quaresma
Having completed the last season in third place, Besiktas signed several players this summer, including Brazilian center-back Rhodolfo from Gremio, German right-back Andreas Beck from Hoffenheim, and German striker Mario Gomez from Italian Serie A team Fiorentina.
The Black Eagles’ former star, Ricardo Quaresma returned from Porto.
This is Quaresma's second spell in Besiktas after signing with the Black Eagles in the summer of 2010. He played for Besiktas until January 2013, when he moved to the Emirati club Al-Ahli over a free transfer.
Besiktas fans' favorite, Senegalese target man Demba Ba was sold to Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua. Additionally, Besiktas hot prospect, 21-year-old Turkish towering center-back Atinc Nukan was signed by German Bundesliga 2 team Red Bull Leipzig.
Based on their last season performance, Besiktas will compete in UEFA Europa League group stage this year.
Newly promoted Antalyaspor sign Cameroonian Eto'o
Antalyaspor, a new entry into the top Turkish division, transferred former Chelsea forward Samuel Eto'o this summer.
One of the top players in 2000s, 34-year-old Eto’o has played for leading European clubs including Barcelona and Inter. After short spells at English club Everton and Italian side Sampdoria last year, he will try to thrill the fans in Turkey this season.
Kayserispor, Osmanlispor and Antalyaspor promoted to Super League
Kayserispor, Osmanlispor and Antalyaspor are newcomers to the Super League from the second division, whilst Balikesirspor, Kayseri Erciyesspor and Kardemir Karabukspor suffered relegation.
The 2015-16 season in Super League will start on Friday and the first half will end on December 27. The second half will begin on January 17, 2016, and the season is scheduled to finish on May 22.
In addition to new stars of the league, Galatasaray's Wesley Sneijder and Fernando Muslera, Besiktas' Jose Sosa, Fenerbahce forward Moussa Sow, midfielders Raul Meireles and Diego Ribas, and Trabzonspor striker Oscar Cardozo -- along with Turkish stars -- are likely to be featuring in highlight reels this season.
First derby in matchday 6
The first derby of the season will be played between Besiktas and Fenerbahce in Besiktas' home ground Ataturk Olympic Stadium in matchday 6.
In matchday 9, Fenerbahce will host archrivals Galatasaray, while Besiktas will meet Galatasaray at home in matchday 15.
Teams can register 28 players
Spor Toto Super League teams can register 28 players each and they are able to sign a maximum of 14 foreign players, who can be picked for the entire starting eleven without limitations.
In the previous season, the teams could sign 8 foreign players maximum, and only 5 of them could qualify for the match squad.
Yellow Canaries the most valuable team
Fenerbahce is the most valuable team of the Super League, with an estimated value of €158.2 million ($175.9 million).
Galatasaray comes in second with €137.3 million ($152.6 million) and Besiktas, whose squad value is €126.5 million ($140.6 million), is in third place.
Galatasaray goalkeeper Muslera still "the most valuable player" of the league
German-based football data information site, "Transfermarkt" says that Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera is still “the most valuable player” of the league with a market value estimated at €17 million ($18.9 million).
The second spot is shared by a number of stars, including Fenerbahce's new signings, forward van Persie and winger Nani, and Galatasaray playmaker Sneijder. Each player's current market value is around €15 million ($16.6 million).
Fenerbahce winger Moussa Sow comes in third with a €13 million ($14.4 million) market value.
The Super League will feature a 39-strong referee squad this season, which includes many FIFA-licensed referees such as Cuneyt Cakir, Huseyin Gocek, Halis Ozkahya, Tolga Ozkalfa, Baris Simsek, Mete Kalkavan ve Ali Palabiyik.
Fixtures of the first matchday of Spor Toto Super League's 2015-16 season:
August 14, Friday:
Fenerbahce-Eskisehirspor at 10 p.m (1900 GMT)
August 15, Saturday:
Trabzonspor-Bursaspor at 9 p.m (1800 GMT)
Medipol Basaksehir-Antalyaspor at 10 p.m (1900 GMT)
Medicana Sivasspor-Galatasaray at 10 p.m (1900 GMT)
August 16, Sunday:
Osmanlispor-Kayserispor at 9 p.m (1800 GMT)
Torku Konyaspor-Akhisar Belediyespor at 9 p.m (1800 GMT)
Gaziantepspor-Kasimpasa at 10 p.m (1900 GMT)
Mersin Idmanyurdu-Besiktas at 10 p.m (1900 GMT)
August 17, Monday:
Genclerbirligi-Caykur Rizespor at 10 p.m (1900 GMT)
© Copyright Andolu Ajansi