Crunch Istanbul derby to shape Turkey’s title race
Defending Spor Toto Super League champion Beşiktaş and current leader Galatasaray will clash in a crunch Istanbul derby on Dec. 2, in a match that will shape the race for the title.
Despite flying high in the Champions League - becoming the first Turkish club to finish top of its group - Beşiktaş has been struggling in the domestic league. It has won only two of its last eight league games, and was held to goalless draws in its last two games, by Akhisarspor and Malatyaspor respectively.
Trailing the leader by six points, Beşiktaş desperately needs a victory at home to cut the gap and get back into the title race.
Galatasaray, which made a spectacular start to the season and won seven of its first eight games, has not been in the best shape since a goalless draw against archrival Fenerbahçe at home in Week 9.
Since then, the Istanbul club has won two games and lost two, including a 5-1 trashing by its closest contender Başakşehir two weeks ago.
That result, which came a week after a 2-1 loss at Trabzonspor, raised doubts about the team’s performances against strong clubs, while and coach Igor Tudor’s ability to intervene when things go south has been a source of debate.
Galatasaray chairman Dursun Özbek, however, has voiced his unconditional support for the 39-year-old coach.
“Galatasaray is currently the leader, six points ahead of its archrivals [Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe],” Özbek told daily Hürriyet.
“No one should underestimate Tudor’s success. We are going through a great convergence process, this squad will serve the club for at least three or four years. People should stop criticizing,” he said, claiming that most of the criticism came from “sworn enemies of Galatasaray.”
While Galatasaray and Beşiktaş clash in the derby, their city rival Başakşehir will have a much easier task at hand when it hosts Osmanlıspor on Dec. 3.
Başakşehir, sitting in the second spot trailing the leader by two points, will take over the top spot should it win against the Ankara club, which sits in the relegation zone, and Galatasaray lose at Beşiktaş.
Fenerbahçe will be playing another Istanbul club on Dec. 3, hosting Kasımpaşa at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium, hoping to extend its two-game winning streak to three.
Dec. 3 will also see two crucial games for the fight against relegation, with Konyaspor, just above the danger zone, hosting Bursaspor and cellar-dweller Gençlerbirliği taking on Sivasspor at home.
On Dec. 2, Karabükpor will host Göztepe, which returned to winning ways last week following a four-game winless streak, while Malatyaspor visits Akhisarspor.
Week 14 competition in the league will conclude with two games on Dec. 4, when Kayserispor travels to Alanyaspor and Trabzonspor entertains Antalyaspor at home.