Comfortable Başakşehir out to defend cushion in Turkish Super League
As they reign over Turkey’s top football league, Başakşehir is comfortable with 57 points, eight more than their city rival, and has already started dreaming of becoming the sixth team to have clinched the league title.
“Of course this is our biggest dream,” a cautious Başakşehir attacking midfielder Arda Turan said on March 9, after a 2-1 victory over Istanbul giant Fenerbahçe at home.
“But if we forget about the remaining nine games and overfocus on the title, it would be a mistake.”
Coach Abdullah Avcı was even more tight-lipped.
“This is not an easy process,” he said.
“We do not possess such a culture [of title winning]. I hope we’ll get it. I hope we will get what we deserve,” he told journalists.
His team is shining with its strong defense, conceding only 12 goals in the past 25 games, with a 0.48 per game record.
This puts Başakşehir on the top the best defense average list across Europe, as Premier League’s Liverpool follows with 0.56 goals conceded per game.
Şenol Güneş, the coach of third-spot Beşiktaş who has also taken the helm at the Turkish national team, paid a visit to Başakşehir on March 13 ahead of the UEFA European Championship qualification games against Albania on March 22 and Moldova on March 25.
Galatasaray, for its side, is high in morale, following a 5-0 win over Antalyaspor in the closing game of last week on March 11.
“Galatasaray would never give up, never step back, never accepts defeat,” coach Fatih Terim said after the game, vowing to remain in the title race until the last minute.
Rival Bursaspor’s coach Samet Aybaba invited broken-hearted fans to the game to help the team escape from a dangerous spot just above the relegation line.
“They made us win against Sivasspor. And they caused us trouble in the previous game,” he said.
Elsewhere, 44-point Beşiktaş will host İzmir’s Göztepe on March 16, when cellar-dweller Akhisarspor welcomes Istanbul’s Kasımpaşa.
A rising Trabzonspor will visit Erzurumspor the same day when Antalyaspor and Alanyaspor clash in a Mediterranean derby.
On March 17 at noon, Yeni Malatyaspor will take on Ankaragücü, the sole first-tier team from the Turkish capital.