Başakşehir opens weekend curtain in tight Turkish Super League race
Istanbul’s Başakşehir, which currently sits atop the Turkish Super League with Galatarasaray, will visit Mediterranean underdog Alanyaspor on March 9 in the opening game of match week 25.
Last year’s runner-up is high in morale after beating İzmir’s Göztepe 2-0 in its most recent match to continue its chase for the title.
“I think the tight league title race will continue until the end,” Başakşehir coach Abdullah Avcı said after last week’s away win.
“But as the end of the league approaches we have less room for mistakes,” Avcı added.
Three of the team’s key regulars - Emre Belözoğlu, Gael Clichy and Junior Caiçara – are all one yellow card away from suspension, one week before a crucial Istanbul derby with third-place Beşiktaş.
Alanyaspor, only three points above the relegation zone, has much to lose if it succumbs to the title contender.
“We have to sustain the struggle and unity that we displayed last week,” coach Mesut Bakkal said after a 1-0 away win over Gençlerbirliği.
Bakkal replaced Hikmet Karaman ahead of the Gençlerbirliği game after the team suffered a four-game losing run.
Meanwhile, a well-motivated Galatasaray wants to keep winning when it hosts a struggling Konyaspor at home on March 11. Fatih Terim’s team beat bottom-placed Karabük 7-0 away last week, with striker Bafétimbi Gomis scoring more than half of the goals in just the first half of the game to carry his team to 50 points.
Defending champion Beşiktaş, which clinched a 2-0 away win against Trabzonspor in the closing game of last week, will take on Gençlerbirliği on March 10, bidding to continue its chase behind the top two from three points behind.
The matchup comes ahead of a Champions League Round of 16 game against Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich, but the Istanbul team has already throw in the towel in that tie after a 5-0 loss in the first leg in Germany.
Fourth-placed Fenerbahçe is looking to return to winning ways when it visits Malatyaspor, a tough away trip to a team looking for a spot in next year’s European competition.
On March 10, Osmanlıspor will host Bursaspor and Sivasspor will take on Istanbul’s Kasımpaşa.
On March 11, Kayseri will defend its fifth spot against Karabük, while Göztepe goes to Antalya. Trabzonspor will visit Akhisarspor on March 12 in the closing game of the week.