Title race in Turkish Super League enters crucial week
Spor Toto Super League title hopefuls Beşiktaş and Başakşehir will play tough games in Week 31 as the race for the trophy enters the final stretch.
Leader Beşiktaş will travel to struggling Bursaspor on May 15 with four more games to go in the season, while Başakşehir, which trails the leader by two points, will play at home against Gençlerbirlği.
An ostensible shoe-in for the title just a few weeks ago, Beşiktaş lost 3-1 to Başakşehir before drawing 1-1 at home to archrival Fenerbahçe last week, leaving the club just two points up on its upstart Istanbul rival.
Its game against Bursaspor, which is working with its fourth coach this season after firing Mutlu Topçu and bringing in grassroots coach and former player Adnan Örnek, looks easy for the leader on paper.
Bursaspor, the only team to have won a championship besides the three major Istanbul clubs and Trabzonspor, is far from its glory days in the 2009-2010 season, and has won just twice in its last 15 games, losing 11 of them. In its last two games, the club has conceded 11 goals without reply, losing 5-0 at home to Galatasaray and 6-0 at Rizespor.
With fans in fury, the club in disarray and the once-forgotten fear of relegation looming on the horizon, Bursaspor sees a win against Beşiktaş as the first step toward calming the situation.
“This game will be something like our cure, our treatment,” Örnek told reporters mid-week.
“The Beşiktaş game is an important opportunity for us to rise up again. These kids can write history; every victory helps forget the pains of the past. We must unite for the game; our supporters have already united,” said the former Bursaspor player, who spent his entire 12-year career at the club, carrying the captain’s armband for six seasons.
Başakşehir, meanwhile, is having its best season in club history as it chases both the league and cup trophies.
“We can win the league trophy in four games and the cup in two games, that’s a historic success for us,” said Mustafa Saral, the Istanbul club’s vice chairman. “We want to end the season with at least one trophy, and we can make it.”
Coach Abdullah Avcı is already proud of his players regardless of the outcome of the season.
“However the season ends, we have had a great season,” he said after last week’s 1-0 victory at Antalyaspor.
Also in Week 31, Fenerbhaçe, which has been buoyed by a five-game unbeaten streak and a hard-earned point last week at Beşiktaş, hosts Antalyaspor on May 13, hoping to continue its chances of reeling in a Champions League spot, if not an unlikely title. Trailing Başakşehir by six points, Fenerbahçe will need its opponent to lose at least twice in the last four weeks to have a chance of punching a ticket to the Champions League preliminaries next season.
Galatasaray, which is still trying to ease the wounds of last week’s 3-1 home loss against Kasımpaşa, travels to Gaziantepspor, which lies seven points from safety, on May 14.
Trabzonspor, which has lost only two games in the second half of the season and has climbed up to fifth spot, travels to Adanaspor on May 13.
On May 14, Osmanlıspor hosts Akhisar Belediye and Alanyaspor takes on Karabükspor at home.
In games affecting the relegation zone, Kayserispor was to entertain Konyaspor and Rizespor was scheduled to visit Kasımpaşa on May 12.