Galatasaray, Beşiktaş set for major Istanbul derby

Galatasaray, Beşiktaş set for major Istanbul derby

Galatasaray, Beşiktaş set for major Istanbul derby

Beşiktaş’s Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma (R) tries to dribble past Galatasaray’s young defender Semih Kaya during a Spor Toto Super League game in Istanbul. Hürriyet photo

Spor Toto Super League leader Galatasaray will aim to continue its good run when it hosts Beşiktaş in the big derby game of the weekend.

Galatasaray will host its Istanbul neighbor at the Türk Telekom Arena on Feb. 24, hoping to extend its unbeaten run in big games as well as its domination atop standings.

After 27 games, the Lions are leading the league with 60 points, six more than their closest trailer, Fenerbahçe, the defending champion.

Beşiktaş is third with 49 points and taking the game as a serious chance to stick to the top of the league. Trabzonspor, last year’s runner-up, continues to be in fourth, the last spot for championship playoffs, with 46 points.

Although the regular season will be continued with a playoff stage, where the top four teams will start with half the points they win at the end of the 34-week period, Galatasaray’s lead will count at the end of the season.

The Lions, which look to end their four-year drought for the title, showed they are up for it with their flashy squad blending well throughout the season.

Galatasaray enjoyed 3-1 and 3-0 victories over Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor respectively, while its first game at Beşiktaş ended in a goalless stalemate.

Managed by Fatih Terim, arguably the team’s most successful coach ever, Galatasaray is hoping to make up for its miserable season last year. The Lions finished eighth last season and broke an unwanted club record for most number of defeats in a single year.

With that in mind, the club was the most active of Turkish clubs in the transfer windows, with Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, veteran Czech defender Tomas Ujfalusi, versatile wing back Emmanuel Eboue of Ivory Coast, towering Swedish striker Johan Elmander, along with Turkish internationals Selçuk İnan, Ceyhun Gülselam and Sercan Yıldırım were added to the squad. In mid-season transfer window, veteran Necati Ateş, who spent three seasons at Galatasaray before being sold to Antalyaspor, was signed again, and Manisaspor’s star Yiğit Gökoğlan was added to the squad.

Beşiktaş, boasting a flurry of Portuguese stars Ricardo Quaresma, Manuel Fernandes, Simao Sabrosa and Hugo Almeida, will hope to continue its momentum after knocking Braga out of the Europa League on Feb. 23. The Black Eagles, the only remaining Turkish team in European competitions, will meet Atletico Madrid in round 32.

Trabzonspor, which suffered a 4-1 defeat at PSV to bow out of Europa League, will welcome Mersin İdman Yurdu and Fenerbahçe will visit Eskişehirspor also this weekend.

Elsewhere it is Karabükspor vs. Ankaragücü, Manisaspor vs. Gaziantepspor, Samsunspor vs. Bursaspor, Istanbul BB vs. Antalyaspor and Gençlerbirliği vs. Sivasspor.