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By ESPN Staff

Fenerbahce put faith in Euro 2008 winners

ISTANBUL, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Fenerbahce aim to ride a wave of success enjoyed at Euro 2008 by their Spanish recruits, coach Luis Aragones and striker Daniel Guiza, when the Turkish league season starts this weekend.

Fenerbahce, who begin against Gaziantepspor, will be bidding to wrest the title back from Galatasaray after their Istanbul rivals won it for the 17th time in May - equalling Fenerbahce's record.

Guiza will lead the attack with Semih Senturk, who also has fond memories of a Euro 2008 tournament won by Aragones's Spain, having scored three goals in Turkey's run to the semi-finals.

Saturday's opener follows a faltering start in Europe last week, with Fenerbahce trailing 2-0 to Partizan Belgrade after just 15 minutes of their Champions League third qualifying round, first leg.

But goals from Brazilian playmaker Alex and Guiza earned them a 2-2 draw, reinforcing the image created at Euro 2008 of Turkish sides as masters of the comeback.

With the second leg looming next week, Fenerbahce will be hoping to repeat or even improve on last season's place in the quarter-finals, where they lost to Chelsea.

Uncertainty remains over the future of the club's Serbian striker Mateja Kezman, while the midfield will be boosted by the arrival of Emre Belozoglu from Newcastle United.

Galatasaray, who open against Denizlispor, have also been busy in the transfer market, with new coach Michael Skibbe from Bayer Leverkusen making the notable signing of Harry Kewell after an injury-plagued five years at Liverpool.

The Australian has already answered local critics, earning the media nickname "Magician Kewell" by scoring one goal and setting up the other during a 25-minute appearance in the club's 2-1 Super Cup victory over Kayserispor on Sunday.

Skibbe, who has replaced German coach Karl-Heinz Feldkamp, will be looking to Arda Turan to orchestrate the attack after the midfielder shone at Euro 2008, scoring two goals.

Striker Shabani Nonda has shown early promise by scoring twice in last week's 2-2 draw against Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League qualifiers.

The first leg game exposed the vulnerability in Galatasaray's defence, which Skibbe has tried to strengthen with the signing of Fernando Meira from VfB Stuttgart and Alparslan Erdem from Werder Bremen.

The third major Istanbul club, Besiktas, will again face an uphill battle to win the title which they last claimed in 2003.

Coach Ertugrul Saglam has brought in the Czech duo from Udinese, midfielder Tomas Sivok and defender Tomas Zapotocny.


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