Fierce Istanbul rivals set to meet to end the year on top

Fierce Istanbul rivals set to meet to end the year on top

Fierce Istanbul rivals set to meet to end the year on top

Galatasaray has beaten Fenerbahçe 3-2 in the last time the two fierce rivals met in the Turkish Super Cup. Galatasaray holds a two-point advantage over its archrival ahead of the big derby.

Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe are set to renew the most heated rivalry in Turkish football on Dec. 16, with a bid to finish the first half of the Spor Toto Super League season on top at stake.

The Lions host their fierce rivals at the Türk Telekom Arena at 8 p.m., hoping to extend their lead in the standings. With 29 points from 15 matches, Galatasaray has a two-point lead over second-place Fenerbahçe ahead of the penultimate match of the first part of the season. With the exception of fourth-place Antalyaspor, which has 26 points and a game in hand, the two fierce rivals are almost certain to finish the first part in the top two spots.

In 29 seasons, the leader of the Super League halfway through the campaign has gone on to win the league; in another 16 seasons, the runner-up has ended up winning the silverware.

For Galatasaray, this will be about getting an upper hand over Fenerbahçe at the Türk Telekom Arena. In three meetings played at the stadium, which was opened in early 2011, Galatasaray twice lost 2-1, but also claimed a 3-1 win over its archrival last December.

After spending the last decade under the shadow of its rival in derbies, Galatasaray has showed signs of improving its record against Fenerbahçe recently.

For example, Galatasaray ended its 10-game losing streak in away games at Fenerbahçe, holding the Yellow Canaries to three straight draws at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

Upper hand

The Lions will be given hope by the fact that their previous two games against Fener ended with trophies. First, it held on to a goalless draw in May to claim the Super League title, then it won 3-2 to win the Super Cup in August.

Fener, on the other hand, still has the superior record in derbies with 141 wins to Galatasaray’s 118 from a total 372 matches.

Although never lacking controversy, the debates surrounding the derby have started earlier this time, with Fenerbahçe fans and the club’s board demanding the right to watch the big game at the Türk Telekom Arena. According to a decision taken by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) and the Union of Clubs, formed by the chairmen of 18 top-flight teams, no visiting fans are allowed at matches between the big four – Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor – to avoid fan clashes. However, a group of Fenerbahçe fans staged a protest last week, refusing to leave the stadium after the Istanbul BB match on Dec. 9. Following a call from the fans, Fenerbahçe club made an official application to overturn the ban on away fans but was rejected.

“We would like to reconsider the situation next season, but after some derbies were played with that rule, it would be wrong to change it,” Galatasaray board member Ali Dürüst said.

Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç joined the discussion, saying no matter what happened in the past, banning away fans from attending matches was “not modern” and adding that he “supported the clubs that wanted to overturn the ban.”