It's a bit of a strange one, this preseason match. I'm not even sure whether to call it a match, or an exhibition, or two half-matches, or just a fun time in Turkey for a good cause.
It's good strange in that all the proceeds from the tournament go to benefit the 301 direct, and many more indirect victims of the Soma mining disaster in May. It's an excellent cause, it's a worthy endeavor; kudos all around to everyone involved.
"It tells you about the power of football. Regardless of what happens in football, what team you support, there are certain things in life when everyone comes together."
-John Terry; source: Chelsea FC
It's bad strange in the timing (very congested schedules for both Chelsea and Besiktas) and it's strange-strange in the format. Three teams are involved -- Fenerbahce (the hosts) and the two guests, Besiktas and Chelsea -- for a grand total of three matches, each lasting just 45 minutes. So each team will basically play one full game, but each half will be against a different team. Fenerbahce vs. Besiktas kick things off, followed by Fenerbahce vs. Chelsea and Besiktas vs. Chelsea. Some sources have Chelsea's two fixtures in reverse order. I guess we'll see.
The team with the most points from their two "matches" (3pts for win, 1pt for draw; not sure about tiebreakers) wins the tournament. Though it's hardly about that.
Date: Friday, August 8, 2014
Schedule (via fenerbahce.org):
Game 1: Fenerbahce vs. Besiktas, 18:30 BST; 1:30pm EDT; 11pm IST
Game 2: Fenerbahce vs. Chelsea, 19:30 BST; 2:30pm EDT; midnight IST
Game 3: Chelsea vs. Besiktas, 20:30 BST; 3:30pm EDT; 1am IST (next day)
Venue: Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey
Forecast: Strong morning thunderstorm followed by a hot day and a clear night.
On TV: Smart Spor (TUR)
Online: Chelsea TV (not available in Turkey)
Fenerbahce team news: It's been a tumultuous few seasons at the defending Turkish champions who are currently barred from European competition due to the 2011 match-fixing scandal. It's all a bit confusing but as far as I can tell, this will be the second year of their two-year punishment, the first one getting served back in 2011-12. In the meantime, they've now matched fierce rivals Galatasaray with 19 domestic titles and have finished outside the top two in the league just twice since 2000.
Fener have strengthened their team of seasoned veterans this summer with the signing of ex-Atlético and ex-Wolfsburg Diego Ribas, while letting ex-Chelsea prospect Miro Stoch leave on loan to the Arabian Gulf League. Speaking of ex-Chelsea, our cultiest of recent cult heroes, Raul
Meireles MRLSH and his magnificent beard will star in their third season here.
Besiktas team news: Besiktas (3rd in the league last season) also served a one-year ban for the match-fixing scandal, but they're back in Europe now and looking pretty good so far. Inspired by a Demba Ba hattrick in the second leg on Wednesday, they summarily dispatched Feyenoord to qualify for the Champions League play-off round. A win there will see them compete in the Champions League proper this season, otherwise they'll drop into the Europa League. The draw for the play-off round is scheduled for Friday as well, and they do have a decent chance of having to face Arsenal. Dare to Demba!
Besiktas are probably the weakest of the three teams and have had the most strenuous commitments by being already involved in European games, but that just means they also have the most ready and most in-shape players.
Chelsea team news: The Blues are making a weekend in Europe out of this, following up Friday's tournament with the friendly against Ferencváros in Budapest on Sunday. Sounds a bit much, but we still have lots of players who need to get into some sort of match shape following extended post-World Cup vacations.
All the first-team players are now back, which means that the traveling squad has a very familiar, very unsurprising look to it.
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois, Mark Schwarzer
Defenders: Nathan Ake, Cesar Azpilicueta, Gary Cahill, Andreas Christensen, Filipe Luis, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, Kurt Zouma
Midfielders: Marco van Ginkel, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Mikel, Oscar, Ramires
Forwards: Diego Costa, Didier Drogba, Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, Mohamed Salah, Andre Schurrle, Fernando Torres, Willian
Previously: Chelsea have matched wits with both opponents in Champions League before, Besiktas in the 2003-04 group stages (both teams winning the away tie 2-0) and Fenerbahce in the quarterfinals of the 2007-08 edition (a 2-1 loss in Turkey followed by a 2-0 at the Bridge).