Gloves out as Lions host Fenerbahçe
An Istanbul derby between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe will be the game to watch in the Week 9 competition in the Spor Toto Super League, with one side trying to extend its domination of the league and the other side hoping for a victory to get back on its feet and cut the gap.
The home side in Oct. 22’s game, Galatasaray, has been unbeaten so far in the league, winning seven of its games and leading six points ahead of its closest competition.
Fenerbahçe, on the other hand, made a troubled start to the season, and although it has won three of its last four games, it is already eight points behind its archrival.
The points difference, however, is not the only factor that makes the game significant for both sides. The competition between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe dates back to more than a century, and many supporters consider a victory against their archrival to be more valuable than a local cup, even more than the league trophy.
Spanish forward Roberto Soldado, who joined Fenerbahçe at the beginning of the season, is no stranger to derby games and knows what they mean to the clubs.
“This is kind of a game you put an asterisk next to when the schedule is announced at the beginning of the season and you start waiting for the game,” he said.
“I know the anticipation of people waiting for this game. The games between Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray are different [than other derby matches] in terms of passion. A victory will mean more than just three points,” he added.
The game will also be significant for the coaches of the two sides. Although the good run in the league has eased the pressure on Galatasaray coach Igor Tudor, who could have been sacked if the club administration bowed down to pressure when Galatasaray was knocked out of the Europa League by Norwegian minnow Östersunds in July, the high expectations may lead to fresh reactions in case of a loss at home.
Tudor’s decision to field an all-foreigner starting 11 against Konyaspor last week has been another source of debate, prompting the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli to call on Galatasaray to “change its name.”
Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman, has been steadily building his team, constantly saying that his squad needs time to be at its best. A win, or at least a draw, could give him some of that precious time he needs.
This week will see another important game in the title race, with the defending champion Beşiktaş hosting last season’s runner-up Başakşehir on Oct. 23.
Başakşehir coach Abdullah Avcı’s decision not to take first team regulars Emre Belözoğlu, Emmanuel Adebayor, Marcio Mossoro and Manuel da Costa to Germany for a Europa League game against Hoffenheim, which the Istanbul club lost 3-1 on Oct. 19, has created uproar on the Beşiktaş front.
The other team in the Europa League, Konyaspor, which lost 2-0 at home to Austria’s Salzburg, returns to league action at Kayserispor on Oct. 22.
In Oct. 22’s other game, Bursaspor visits Sivasspor.
Elsewhere, cellar-dweller Osmanlıspor hosts Karabükspor, Trabzonspor travels to Malatyaspor with new coach Rıza Çalımbay at the helm, and Gençlerbirliği plays at Akhisarspor away.
Second-placed Göztepe was to entertain Alanyaspor and Kasımpaşa was to visit Antalyaspor late on Oct. 20.
Both coaches will try to make their mark when Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe clash.