Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

UEFA: Now José really is the Real Deal

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 23, 2010
Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho is almost certainly leaving Treble winners Internazionale for the challenge of Real Madrid

Like him or loathe him there is no denying that José Mourinho is one of the finest and most astute football coaches in history after the self-styled “Special One” led Italian double winners Internazionale FC to their third European Cup against German Double winners FC  Bayern München in an emotional night for the Milanese club in Madrid on Saturday becoming only the third coach after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld to win the competition with two different clubs. After the final his team flew home to Milan returning to a heroes’ reception at their legendary San Siro stadium but José himself stayed in Madrid to reveal football’s worst kept secret – that he would almost certainly be joining Spanish giants Real Madrid CF for the 2010-11 season.

José Mourinho is very much a man who has courted controversy throughout his maverick coaching career. Having started life within football as an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson whilst the former England coach plied his trade for Sporting Clube do Portugal, FC Porto and FC Barcelona Mourinho would then work with Robson’s successor Louis Van Gaal before fate dealt him his first proper coaching  job at Portuguese giants SL Benfica. Sadly for Mourinho he lasted only nine games there before he took a modest provincial club União de Leiria to their best ever finish of fifth place in the 2001-02 season. After moving to FC Porto the beginning of the Mourinho legend was really starting to take off after he guided Os Dragões to two league titles, one Portuguese Cup, a UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League glory. The manner of his departure from Porto upset some of the club’s supporters who thought that his cold and unemotional demeanour after the 2003-04 UEFA Champions League win over AS Monaco had soured his legacy somewhat. Nonetheless Mourinho then went to Stamford Bridge to guide a Chelsea FC side to their first league championship in fifty years before going on to win another five trophies with the Blues before club politics with billionaire chairman Roman Abramovich saw him discarded and move on in 2008-09 to Italian giants Internazionale FC with whom he has prospered immeasurably.

The Internazionale side that he inherited was already a successful one having won the previous three Serie A titles prior to his arrival albeit the first of these titles was won in the courts after a match-fixing scandal and the second won in a championship minus giants Juventus FC, who’d been forcibly relegated to Serie B, and an AC Milan team who were deducted eight points in the 2006-07 season. In Mourinho’s first season at the San Siro Internazionale won the Serie A title by a ten point margin from both AC Milan and Juventus FC but were denied the Double having surprisingly lost to Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia semi-finals. In 2009-10 the Nerazzurri had to tough it out against AS Roma in the battle for lo Scudetto as Claudio Ranieri’s men recovered from a poor early-season start to take Inter all the way in the championship fight. However Mourinho was able to take his Inter team ahead in the title race with three matches to go and the club stayed there and won the league by just two points. The 18th league title for Internazionale ensured that they overtook Milan’s number of 17 Scudetti and also secured the Double, the first half of which had been secured a couple of weeks earlier when Inter defeated old adversaries AS Roma again in the Coppa Italia final.

Now it was only Louis Van Gaal’s Treble-chasing FC Bayern team that stood in the way of Mourinho and history and the Special One had certainly done his homework on the opposition stifling the creativity of danger man Arjen Robben whilst playing the sort of combative, compact football which have become Mourinho’s hallmark. Diego Milito, a player who Mourinho had brought to the club from Genoa at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, was to play as fundamental a role for Inter as Pedro had for FC Barcelona in their Treble winning 2008-09 season. Milito scored the winner in the Coppa Italia final, the only goal of the game in Inter’s final Serie A game of the season against Siena to secure the league title and the two goals to win the UEFA Champions League for Inter, their first triumph in this tournament since 1964-65 in the old European Cup. The credit for the triumph has to go to Mourinho who has guided Inter into an elite group of clubs who have completed the Treble – domestic league and cup plus European Cup or UEFA Champions League – and has maintained a personal record of having not lost a home league game since February 23rd, 2002 (where his FC Porto team lost to Beira Mar) chalking up 136 games undefeated on home soil which is a truly remarkable record by anyone’s standards.

Now it seems that José Mourinho will take over at Real Madrid CF with whom it has been reported he could start negotiations to take over Manuel Pellegrini as recently as Monday. Should he take over los Blancos one can only imagine just how much more unpopular he will become in Barcelona but that will be the sort of thing that the Special One will thrive on. Always up for a challenge Mourinho will want to become the man who takes Real Madrid to their tenth European Cup/UEFA Champions League victory and only from Monday will we be nearer knowing that the Real Deal will soon be signed and sealed for Mourinho.

European Leagues Round-Up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 9, 2010
Meisterschale

FC Bayern have won the Bundesliga title for a record-extending 22nd time

FC Bayern and Chelsea were amongst the teams crowned national champions in Europe this weekend whilst Italy’s champions-elect FC Internazionale have been taken to the wire by AS Roma who will complete the Serie A season next weekend. In other leagues Real Madrid and FC Barcelona also will fight it out on the last day in Spain after both teams won their Saturday night matches against Athletic Bilbao and Sevilla CF respectively.

FC Bayern München had pretty much sealed the title after the penultimate round of games after they had beaten VfL Bochum at the same time their only title challengers FC Schalke 04 were going down to home defeat against Werder Bremen. On the last day FC Bayern travelled to the German capital to face a Hertha BSC side who were already facing up to the prospect of Second League football next season. This game proved to be a stroll for the Bavarians with goals from Ivica Olić and a brace from Dutch sensation Arjen Robben sealing a 3-1 win in the Olympiastadion where FC Bayern have the chance to complete a domestic double against Werder Bremen in next weekend’s DFB Pokal (German Cup final). Schalke 04 could only draw 0-0 away at 1.FSV Mainz 05 to put a disappointing end to their campaign whilst Werder Bremen gave themselves a boost before the cup final by gaining a point at home to bitter local northern rivals Hamburger SV and clinch the third UEFA Champions League place. Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and a rejuvenated VfB Stuttgart will take their places in the UEFA Europa League next season. As well as Hertha BSC the 2.Liga will be joined by VfL Bochum next season with the possibility of 1.FC Nürnberg joining them should they lose a promotion/relegation play-off to FC Augsburg.

In England it was a topsy-turvy campaign in the Premier League with the leadership changing hands on no fewer than twenty two occasions during the campaign. Thankfully for the Blues of Chelsea FC it didn’t turn out to be twenty three as the Stamford Bridge side won with considerable ease against Wigan Athletic by eight goals to nil. A hat-trick for Didier Drogba and a brace for Nicolas Anelka was supplemented by solitary strikes by Frank Lampard, Solomon Kalou and Ashley Cole to give Chelsea their fourth English championship, their first since the days of Jose Mourinho in 2006. Present Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti has a real chance to win the Double in his first season in charge should the Blues do, as expected, win next weekend’s FA Cup final against Portsmouth FC at Wembley Stadium. Chelsea’s title rivals Manchester United saw off Stoke City 4-0 at Old Trafford but the Red Devils only have the League Cup to show for their efforts in the 2009-10 campaign. The top two will be joined by Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur in next season’s UEFA Champions League while Manchester City, Aston Villa and a very disappointing Liverpool FC will be playing UEFA Europa League football next term. At the bottom of the table Portsmouth FC’s relegation was confirmed some time ago and they will be joined in the Championship (second tier) by Hull City and Burnley FC who go straight back down after their maiden Premier League appearance.

SL Benfica sealed their 32nd championship title in Portugal’s Liga Sagres thansk to an Oscar Cardozo double which gave the Eagles a 2-1 home win over Rio Ave. At the same time their only title rivals Sporting Braga could only muster a 1-1 draw on the island of Madeira against a determined Nacional side who ensured that the league title would’ve gone to Benfica even had the league leaders had surprisingly lost at home as Braga needed all three points coupled with a Benfica defeat to win the title. In any case Sporting Braga can be very proud of their efforts as they finished second and, thus, qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. Deposed champions FC Porto finished three points further back in third and will only play in UEFA Europa League next season along with Sporting Lisbon and Marítimo. At the bottom last season’s surprise package SC Leixões were relegated along with Os Belenenses, both of whom will play in the Liga de Honra next season.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was amongst the scorers in FC Barcelona's 3-2 win at Sevilla CF.

Title races in Spain and Italy must be sorted out on the final day of the season as both the main challengers in both countries won their penultimate fixtures this weekend. On Saturday in Spain both defending champions FC Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid won tough fixtures against Sevilla CF (3-2) and Athletic Bilbao (5-1) respectively. Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona side were coasting to a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Messi, Bojan and Pedro before they allowed the Andalucians back into the game with two goals in the space of sixty seconds from Fredi Kanouté and Luis Fabiano to give the Blaugrana a real scare but the visitors held out for three very important points. Real Madrid were being held at one all with a little under twenty minutes to go before Gonzalo Higuaín opened the floodgates for los Blancos who went on to record a 5-1 win and keep up the pressure on the Catalans. Next week sees FC Barcelona at home to Valladolid and Real Madrid away at Malaga FC on what should be an exciting final day’s action.

In Italy FC Internazionale, who won the Coppa Italia final against AS Roma earlier in the week, thought that they were going to celebrate their fifth straight Scudetto as they were beating Chievo 4-1 with goals from Mantovani (own goal), Cambiasso, Milito and Balotelli, giving the Nerazzurri a healthy advantage whilst nearest challengers AS Roma were losing 1-0 at home to Cagliari Calcio. But in the last twenty minutes Chievo pulled two goals back to give Inter a scare and AS Roma’s talismanic captain Francesco Totti scored twice to give the Giallorossi hope of winning the title with one game left. Next Sunday’s action sees Inter away to already relegated Siena and AS Roma away at Chievo and many will fancy the Nerazzurri to do the domestic Double before meeting up with FC Bayern in the UEFA Champions League on Saturday, May 22nd.

UEFA: Who will win the UEFA Champions League 2010? (Poll)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on March 19, 2010

The draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals have taken place today in Nyon, Switzerland and there are some very interesting matches to come in the remainder of the competition. Below is the draw for the UEFA Champions League and we have created a poll so that you can vote for the team who you think will be lifting the trophy in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid on Saturday, May 22:

QUARTER-FINALS (1st leg 30-31 March; 2nd leg 06-07 April)

1. OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS (France) v GIRONDINS de BORDEAUX (France)

2. FC BAYERN MÜNCHEN (Germany) v MANCHESTER UNITED (England)

3. ARSENAL FC (England) v FC BARCELONA (Spain)

4. INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CSKA MOSCOW (Russia)

SEMI-FINALS (1st leg 20-21 April; 2nd leg 27-28 April)

5. Winner Match 2 v Winner Match 1

6. Winner Match 4 v Winner Match 3

FINAL (Saturday, 22 May)

7. Winner Match 5 v Winner Match 6

UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Champions League trophy

UEFA Champions League: Round of 16 Preview 4

Posted in European Football by peterbein on February 23, 2010
Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has already won the UEFA Champions League twice as AC Milan coach. Can he do it again with Chelsea FC?

In the fourth and final installment of Stoppage Time’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 previews, we focus on those games which take place on Wednesday, February 24th with the return leg on Tuesday, March 16th:

INTERNAZIONALE FC (Italy) v CHELSEA FC (England)

With Manchester United’s 3-2 win against AC Milan last Tuesday the English Premier League currently leads Italy’s Serie A 1-0 in the Round of 16 contests. On Wednesday there is a more controversial reunion than the one enjoyed last week by a certain David Beckham upon meeting his former employers from Old Trafford. The self-proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mourinho will face up to his former comrades of Chelsea FC but will do so wanting to get one over an old adversary from Milan, Carlo Ancelotti. The former coach of AC Milan, Ancelotti has a proven track record in the UEFA Champions League winning two out of three finals (success in 2003 and 2007, defeat in 2005) with the Rossoneri but is determined to prove himself with his current team in his first season at Stamford Bridge.

Inter qualified for this stage finishing second in the toughest group of the first stage. The Nerazzurri ended up just two points behind FC Barcelona but managed to seal their place in the last 16 with a 2-0 home win over Russian champions Rubin Kazan. Since then Inter have gone unbeaten in thirteen league and cup games and have one foot in the Coppa Italia (Italian Cup) final having secured a 1-0 semi-final, first leg lead over AC Fiorentina. However Mourinho’s men have stalled a little since their 2-0 triumph in the most recent Milan derby in January, two draws in their last three games reducing their lead at the top of Serie A to just five points from resurgent AS Roma and six over AC Milan. Chelsea, on the other hand, increased their lead at the top of England’s Premier League to four points this weekend after their 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers was coupled with defeat for champions Manchester United at Everton FC. In fact Everton are the only team to have beaten Chelsea since the London side qualified for the Round of 16 with Chelsea losing just one from 15 league and FA Cup matches. In contrast to Inter, Chelsea arguably qualified from the easiest group in the Champions League finishing unbeaten against FC Porto, Atlético de Madrid and APOEL Nicosia.

Both teams have immense talent and strength in depth which makes them among the favourites to win the competition. Probably the strongest player at the moment is Chelsea’s Didier Drogba who has scored 25 goals in all competitions so far (three goals in Champions League) although they have a host of stars who can grab a crucial goal when required. Michael Ballack, Nicolas Anelka, Frank Lampard and even club captain John Terry can pop up whenever necessary. For Inter Diego Milito, who signed for the club from Genoa FC this season, is a threat in front of goal having hit the net 16 times in all competitions so far. He is ably assisted in attack by former Barcelona star Samuel Eto’o and rising young Italy star Mario Balotelli.

CSKA MOSCOW (Russia) v SEVILLA CF (Spain)

Sevilla have been much the busier of the two sides since the conclusion of the Champions League group stage due to the fact that the Russian season finished in late November. Therefore CSKA Moscow are lacking in match practice before the new 2010 domestic championship kicks off in March and may find it difficult in this competition against a Sevilla side who have played sixteen competitive games since they made it through their group which contained VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni and Glasgow Rangers.

Sevilla, though, have struggled for form since Round of 16 qualification especially in La Liga where they lost three matches in a row to Getafe, Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona before recovering to win four of their last five games. The Copa del Rey (Spanish King’s Cup) is where Sevilla have ridden their luck though. In the last three rounds leading up to the final they won one and lost one game in each round but were fortunate to have done enough in each first leg match of the competition against FC Barcelona (2-2 winning on away goals), Deportivo de La Coruña (3-1 on aggregate) and Getafe (2-1 agg.) to set up a meeting with Atlético de Madrid in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu on May 26th. CSKA Moscow negotiated their way through a tough Champions League group which involved Manchester United, VfL Wolfsburg and Beşiktaş. After their 2-1 win over the latter on Matchday 6 there were rumours that CSKA would be thrown out of the competition after two of their players, Sergei Ignashevich and Alexei Berezutsky, were tested positive for a banned substance but UEFA were satisifed that there was “a technical error” which led to confusion and the club were fined €25,000 and the players concerned were banned for one match which has now been served allowing the players to compete in the knockout rounds.

Sevilla’s main threats come from their striking partnership Luís Fabiano (14 goals, 3 in Champions League) and Frédi Kanouté (7 goals, 2 in Champions League) who have enjoyed the club’s recent domestic and European success together in the last five years and whose potent threat up front makes the Andalucians an outside bet for Champions League glory. For CSKA Moscow it is important that they can keep hold of winger Miloš Krasić, who has been linked with clubs from England and Spain after his four goals in the Champions League group stage alerted many clubs to his talent. However CSKA will have to make do without the servies of Brazilian forward Vagner Love who is currently on loan at Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo.

Serie A: Milan derby preview

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 21, 2010
Milan 0 Inter 4

The first Milan derby of the season was emphatically won by Inter

At 20:45 local time on Sunday the second “Derby della Madonnina” will begin between Milanese giants Internazionale (46 points from 20 games) and AC Milan (40 pts, 19 games). Six points separate the sides and this has turned what is normally a grudge match anyway into something even more significant as both sides have separated from the rest of the league as the only likely challengers for lo Scudetto.

On Matchday 2 of the 2009-10 Serie A campaign the two sides met with experienced campaigner José Mourinho leading his Inter team to an emphatic 4-0 victory over a Milan side whose new coach Leonardo found the going tough in the opening weeks of the new season. Goals from Thiago Motta, Diego Milito and Maicon had already put the game beyond the Rossoneri by half-time before Dejan Stanković sealed the deal for the Nerazzurri with a long range strike midway through the second half. However one can only guess that, on current form, Inter won’t be finding their neighbours such an enticing proposition as Milan, and especially their charismatic talisman Ronaldinho, are in great form having only dropped three points in their last nine league games whilst Inter have stuttered in recent weeks scoring eleven points from eighteen available.

This particular fixture usually brings about the best in either one team or the other as there hasn’t been a drawn derby game in Serie A since October 2004. In the last nine derbies Inter have been victorious on six occasions including a ‘double’ in 2006-07, a result which, if repeated this Sunday, will extend Inter’s lead at the top to nine points albeit having played a game more. However if Milan can keep up their great recent form with a win against the champions they’ll close the gap to a mere three points which they can then equal with a win in their game in hand. Out of all permutations for Sunday’s game it is the latter option which is most important if the title race is to become a nailbiter. After being ‘given’ the Scudetto in 2005-06 due to the “Calciopoli” scandal, Inter have almost strolled their way to another three more titles by margins of 22pts, 3pts and 10pts in the last three championships. If Inter are to be denied being only the second team to win five Scudetti in a row (after the great Torino side of 1943-49) then it is imperative for the Rossoneri’s big guns to show on Sunday.

News from Milan’s camp has not been positive on the injury front. Players such as Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf are doubts whilst Pato will definitely sit the game out with a thigh problem. Inter have some problems of their own as two of the scorers from the 4-0 win this season, Motta and Stanković, are doubts and Sulley Muntari pulled up with a thigh strain in training earlier this week. Despite these problems both clubs have any number of players who can make a difference but one feels Milan have the advantage as they have Ronaldinho playing his best football since he left FC Barcelona, David Beckham looking like he hasn’t been away from the San Siro and Marco Borriello whose confidence has shone through in recent games, especially the 5-2 win over his old club Genoa. Inter will miss their top scorer Samuel Eto’o due to his participation in the African Cup of Nations but they still have potential matchwinners in Mario Balotelli, Goran Pandev and Diego Milito. Either way it makes for an exciting derby match which, hopefully, will set the scene for the rest of the season.

European Leagues: Winter Break Round-up

Posted in European Football by peterbein on December 22, 2009
Samuel Eto'o

Samuel Eto'o is all smiles as his club Internazionale lead Italy's Serie A

With the exception of England, Scotland and France, most of the league championships in Europe have taken a well earned break for Christmas time. “Stoppage Time” reviews the season so far in Europe’s top leagues:

SPAIN

This looks like it will be a two horse race between arch-rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Spanish, European and World champions FC Barcelona (39 points from 15 games) hold a slim two point advantage over ‘El Real’ whose performances haven’t always been great but whose capability of getting results has improved. Sevilla looked for a while like a potential ‘stalking horse’ candidate for the title, keeping close to the top but they have slipped off the pace in recent weeks. At the bottom of the table newly promoted sides such as Xerez (7 points from 15 games) and Real Zaragoza have found the going tough. A traditional giant of the Spanish game, Atlético Madrid find themselves just one point from the cellar after a string of poor displays.

ITALY

FC Internazionale of Milan (39 points from 17 games), including striker Samuel Eto’o (pictured) find themselves in charge of Serie A yet again. Going for a fifth consecutive championship, the Nerazzurri’s only challengers to date appear to be local enemies AC Milan, who are eight points behind with a game in hand. The Rossoneri have come back strongly after a really poor start under the stewardship of Leonardo. Juventus appeared to be going well under new coach Ciro Ferrara but have lost their last three games and remain a point further behind Milan having played a game more. At the bottom of the league six points separate Udinese in 14th place from AC Siena in last place (12 points after 17 games), signalling that a tight relegation battle could be just around the corner.

GERMANY

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (35 points from 17 games) remain unbeaten to be crowned the unofficial “Herbstmeister” (autumn champions) in the Bundesliga. However the ‘Werkself’ (Work’s Eleven) have drawn a lot a games meaning that their lead is a narrow one point margin from nearest challengers Schalke 04, who have done well considering their financial troubles. Despite Bayern Munich’s less than impressive start to the season the Bavarian giants are a further point behind Schalke. Louis Van Gaal has withstood the criticism and has guided Bayern to third place at the halfway stage with 33 points. The surprise of the season so far is 1. FSV Mainz 05, who were promoted from the second division last season, who have a respectable eighth place finish after 17 games. Hertha Berlin is the surprise team at the bottom of the table (6 points/17 games), all the more surprising considering they won on the opening day against Hannover 96. Other big clubs close to the bottom are 1. FC Nürnberg, who sacked their coach Michael Oenning on Monday, and VfB Stuttgart, who replaced Markus Babbel with former Tottenham Hotspur coach Christian Gross in early December.

PORTUGAL

The Portuguese Superliga normally has three contenders for the title but one of this year’s contenders is an unfamiliar one: Sporting Braga. They lead the table jointly with SL Benfica (33 points from 14 games) with perennial champions FC Porto four points behind. Many hope that Braga can keep up with the big two especially since the tradional third power of Portuguese football, Sporting, are struggling domestically (21 points/14 games) but performing well in Europe. Also many remember last season’s surprise package Leixões, who led the table early on in 2008-09, falling away late in the season. Could Braga really become only the sixth club (after Benfica, Porto, Sporting, Belenenses and Boavista) to win the Portuguese championship? At the bottome Leixões’ glory days from last season are well and truly behind them as they now are fighting against relegation lying just one point above the bottom two clubs Olhanense and Belenenses (10 points/14 games).

HOLLAND

Steve McClaren has done an impressive job at FC Twente (47 points/17 games) thus far and he’s already hoping to go one better than last season. The club from Enschede were runners-up in both league and cup in 2008-09 but McClaren’s men currently lead the Eredivisie by two points from PSV Eindhoven. PSV’s coach Fred Rutten has given new purpose to the Philips owned club after they lost direction last season under Huub Stevens which led to them weakly giving up their run of four consecutive titles. Ajax, coached by Martin Jol, have suffered a few defeats and are nine points off the pace. Their arch-rivals Feyenoord Rotterdam have also been rejuvenated under new coach Mario Been and a further point behind having played a game more. At the bottom RKC Waalwijk (12 points/18 games) will hope to avoid the automatic relegation spot at the end of the season as they are not far off the teams above NEC Nijmegen, ADO Den Haag and Willem II Tilburg.

GREECE

It’s the same old story in Greece as champions Olympiakos Piraeus are involved in a two-way tussle with league leaders Panathinaikos (38 points/15 games) for the championship. As usual PAOK Thessaloniki threaten to make a fight of it but end up dropping too many points but they should easily get a place in Europe. Athen’s third club AEK have struggled for form and consistency in both Greek and European competition thus far and lie in eighth place on 21 points. At the bottom of the table it’s been a dreadful time for promoted Panthrakikos who remain without a win after fifteen games. They have only two points at this stage and are dead certs for the drop. Above them the likes of Giannina, Levadiakos (14 points), Larissa and Iraklis (15 points) will hope to avoid joining them in the second division next season.

TURKEY

The Turkish Superlig could be one of the most exciting for years. Fenerbahçe (37 points/17 games) lead at the halfway stage by just one point from eternal rivals Galatasaray. Then there are two unexpected title chasers in Bursaspor and Kayserispor (35 and 34 points respectively) as well as last season’s champions Beşiktaş (32 points). “Fener” will miss on the services of Roberto Carlos after the winter break as he heads back to Brazil to finish his career at Corinithians. Last season’s surprise package Sivasspor struggled in the early weeks of the season but will hope that they can take recent good form into the second half of the season. They are ten points ahead of second bottom Denizlispor (7 points/17 games) and seventeen ahead of Ankaraspor who are pointless (numerically speaking, of course) at the halfway stage and look certain for the drop.