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26.07.2017Bayer 04

Our next opponents: Antalyaspor

Antalyaspor are not yet one of the big names in Turkish football. But that could soon change. The club from the Mediterranean city are on the march – thanks in part to notable names in the squad. Bayer 04 will able to experience that quality on Thursday when the Werkself take on the side that finished fifth in the Süper Lig last season at the Alois Latini Stadium in Zell am See (1830 CET). The match will be broadcast live on bayer04.de.
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The Turkish team, who are currently preparing for the new campaign in nearby Leogang, will be playing their second of three friendlies against German opposition. On Sunday they drew 1-1 with second division Erzgebirge Aue and, after the game against the Werkself, Antalyaspor will finish their training camp with a match against Hamburg SV on Sunday.

Antalyaspor Kulübu, to give the club its full name, was founded in 1966 and for a long time has been up and down in the top two Turkish divisions. The last promotion to the Süper Lig was only two years ago. The club has been reorganised since then. Businessman Gültekin Gencer took over the role as president and invested a lot of money in his hometown club. That has been used to make some star signings – above all Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroonian, who won the Champions League three times with Barcelona and Inter Milan, is the marquee player and captain of Antalyaspor. The 36-year-old striker, who was voted African footballer of the year four times, still has ambitions in the holiday paradise on the Turkish Riviera in the autumn of his career.

Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup

The fifth-place finish for Antalyaspor last term represents the best season in the club's history and they narrowly missed out on qualifying for Europe. The next opponents for the Werkself have appeared three times on the European stage in the club's history: In the 1990s the club took part twice in the now-defunct UI Cup and in 2000 – with the German players Mauricio Gaudino and Dirk Schuster in the squad and Rüdiger Abramcik as coach - they qualified for the UEFA Cup (now Europa League) by appearing in the Turkish domestic cup final. That is the biggest success for Antalyaspor to date. They were drawn against Werder Bremen in the first round but a surprising 2-0 win in the first leg was overturned in the return match at the Weser Stadium with a 6-0 mauling and an early exit from the competition.

The team, coached by the former Turkey international Riza Calimbay, are looking to return to the European stage as soon as possible. That's why the captain Eto'o has notable support up front: The Frenchman Jérémy Ménez recently left Girondins Bordeaux for Antalya. The 30-year-old has previously played in attack for Monaco, Roma, Paris St Germain and AC Milan as well as appearing for France in the 2012 European Championships. Other well-known names in the Turkish team's squad are the 18-time Brazil international Sandro, the former FC Nürnberg player Ondrej Celustka as well as central striker Deniz Kadah, who grew up in Germany and played five times in the Bundesliga for Hannover 96 in 2013.

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