Beşiktaş takes on archrival Fenerbahçe to cling to league race
Şenol Güneş’s reinforced Beşiktaş won four out of its last five matches, only being held by a draw with Erzurumspor, with new signings — striker Burak Yılmaz and midfielder Shinji Kagawa — making a change.
Kagawa is expected to replace Adem Ljajic, who scored Beşiktaş’s winner against Yeni Malatyaspor last week but was suspended due to a yellow card, with another playmaker, Oğuzhan Özyakup, still being sidelined because of injury.
Another Beşiktaş gun, Ricardo Quaresma might also find a place in the lineup following rumors about his possible leave.
“I am happy and proud to be part of this great club. Since we all want that Super League title again, I’ll go out there and do my best,” the Portugal international said after the Malatya game, in which he substituted winger Germain Lens in the 68th minute.
Beşiktaş stands on the third spot with 39 points, nine behind leader Başakşehir and three from defending champion Galatasaray.
Fenerbahçe, for its side, is facing one of its worst seasons ever, with only 24 points in 22 games, sitting just on the relegation line.
New coach Ersun Yenal, who signed with the Istanbul side in mid-December last year, has so far failed to raise hopes among fans and the team also dropped out of the UEFA Europa League on Feb. 21, following a 3-1 loss to Russia’s Zenit in the return of a 1-0 home win in the round of 32 match-up.
“We are in the right direction but we cannot achieve results,” Yenal said in a post-game interview.
“Now we have to focus back at the league,” he said, adding that the team should find a way to avoid “simple mistakes.”
Leader Başakşehir, meanwhile, will host Bursaspor on Feb. 23 to maintain its dominance on the turf, which it defended thanks to a 1-0 win against Antalyaspor in the closing game of the past match week.
Başakşehir’s French left back Gael Clichy will miss the game due to injury, with club sources saying that Moldovan center back Alexandru Epureanu might also not be available.
Galatasaray will take on cellar dweller Akhisar one day before the Istanbul derby and wants to wrap its wounds from sharing the same fate with Fenerbahçe in the Europa League.
Portugal’s Benfica eased past Galatasaray 2-1 on Feb. 21 after a goalless draw in Portugal.
Elsewhere, Sivasspor will take on Antalyaspor on Feb. 23, when Alanyaspor hosts Istanbul’s Kasımpaşa.
On Feb. 24, Ankaragücü will host Erzurumspor in one of the toughest clashes in the bottom of the standings. Konyaspor will play at home against Kayserispor to carry on its hope to be qualified for the European competition next season.