Beşiktaş, Galatasaray eye winter break title
Leader Beşiktaş has 35 points from 15 games this season ahead of the game on Jan. 4 against city rival Galatasaray, which sits in third place with 32 points.When Beşiktaş hosts Galatasaray in an Istanbul derby this weekend, both sides will be aiming for a victory to enter the winter break atop the Spor Toto Super League standings.
Leader Beşiktaş has 35 points from 15 games this season ahead of the game on Jan. 4 against city rival Galatasaray, which sits in third place with 32 points.
The other member of Istanbul’s “Big Three,” Fenerbahçe, is in second place with 33 points and plays Istanbul Başakşehir at home on Jan. 3.
Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu said the game was important “to go on holiday happily.”
“It is an important game in that regard, but anything can happen,” the young coach, who replaced Italian coach Cesare Prandelli following the team’s dismal performances in the Champions League, told reporters on Jan. 1.
“We may win, we may lose, and the game might end in draw. It is not the end of the world if we don’t win,” he said.
Hamzaoğlu, a former Galatasaray and Turkish international midfielder, said the ultimate goal is to be atop the standings at the end of the season. “We are not obsessed with becoming the leader and staying the leader,” he added.
Beşiktaş will also try to break its “derby jinx” against Galatasaray. Despite winning its last seven league games, the Black Eagles have yet to win against its city rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatsaray under coach Slaven Bilic, who took over the helm of the club at the beginning of last season.
The club has lost 23 of 41 league games against the two teams in the last 10 seasons, winning only eight of them. Beşiktaş’s performance in the last four seasons’ Istanbul derbies has been even worse. The club has only won two of the 17 derbies played during the period.
In this season’s first Istanbul derby, Beşiktaş lost 2-0 at home to Fenerbahçe on Nov. 2.
When reminded of the statistics, Hamzaoğlu joked: “Then we should be given three points without playing the game.”
The Galatasaray coach said he was aware of the good performances of Beşiktaş’s players, especially striker Demba Ba and young players Veli Kavlak and Olcay Şahan, but he would not make a change to his side’s usual system or take extra measures.
“Maybe Bilic should change his system, shouldn’t he?” Hamzaoğlu asked reporters jokingly.
The first Istanbul derby of the New Year will be played at Atatürk Olympic Stadium, since Beşiktaş’s new home to replace İnönü Stadium in central Istanbul is currently under construction.
In other games ahead of the winter break, which will end on Jan. 25, Çaykur Rizespor entertains Torku Konyaspor at home on Jan. 3.
Also on the same day, Bursaspor, which has lost only once in its last 10 league games, will host Akhisar Belediye and the league’s top scorer Theofanis Gekas who, with 11 goals, is ahead of Galatasaray’s Burak Yılmaz with 10 and Bursaspor’s Brazilian striker Fernandao, who has scored nine goals so far.
In Jan. 4’s matches, Kayseri Erciyesspor takes on Kasımpaşa at home, Karabükspor travels to Sivasspor and Eskişehirspor, which shocked Trabzonspor last week with a 4-1 away victory, takes on Gaziantepspor.
Trabzonspor visits cellar-dweller Balıkesirspor, while Mersin İdmanyurdu plays Gençlerbirliği at home on Jan. 5 in the final games of Week 16 in the Spor Toto Super League.