Galatasaray and Trabzonspor clash in Turkish Süper Lig
While the defending champion needs a victory against the Black Sea side to continue its very slim chances of winning the trophy, league leader Başakşehir visits Antalyaspor on July 4 hoping to extend its stay atop.
Galatasaray, which held the leader to a 1-1 draw last week, is in the fourth spot eight points behind Başakşehir after 29 games, and seven behind second-placed Trabzonspor.
While defending its title seems like a very distant possibility, even a third-place finish, by leapfrogging Sivasspor which it trails by a point, is crucial for the Istanbul side. With Trabzonspor having been banned by the UEFA from the European competition for one year due to financial irregularities, the third spot may give a ticket to the qualifying round of the Champions League.
On paper, the visiting side seems to be the on-form side.
Galatasaray has no wins in its three games since the restart of the Süper Lig in June following a three-month break due to the pandemic, while Trabzonspor has not lost a league game since a 2-1 loss at home to Denizlispor on Dec. 16, 2019.
Long-time injuries have hit Galatasaray hard in this period, with Mario Lemina and Martin Linnes suffering injuries in last week’s game against Başakşehir to join Uruguayan star Fernando Muslera, defenders Christian Luyindama and Marcao Teixeira and Colombian forward Radamel Falcao.
Başakşehir, on the other hand, won twice after the break before the Galatasaray draw, and a win at Antalyaspor may cement its position as the title favorite.
“We currently have a two-point advantage and there are five remaining games,” Başakşehir coach Okan Buruk said after the Galatasaray match.
“We believe [in winning the title] more than we did last season, we have a stronger squad compared to the last season. We, as a united team with our president, management, supporters and players, believe that we will win the championship.”
A very tight race is also in progress in the fight against relegation.
Konyaspor, second from the bottom, hosts Rizespor, which has a two-point advantage, on July 5, while cellar-dweller Ankaragücü takes on Alanyaspor at home on July 4.
Another crucial game pits two off-form clubs that have started seeing relegation nightmares against each other when Malatyaspor, which has lost 10 of its last 12 games, entertains Gençlerbirliği that sits just three points away from the danger zone.
Kayserispor, which climbed up from the bottom of the standings by winning its last two games, plays Beşiktaş at home in the final game of the week on July 6.
Elsewhere in Week 30 games, Gaziantep visits Denizlispor, Göztepe travels to Fenerbahçe and Kasımpaşa, which is on a five-game winning streak, hosts Sivasspor.