Galatasaray finally over ‘Fener factor’ in derbies

Galatasaray finally over ‘Fener factor’ in derbies

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray finally over ‘Fener factor’ in derbies

Galatasaray players celebrate after winning a derby over Fenerbahçe. For many years, Galatasaray seemed like losing the derbies even before the kick-off, but the situation looks like changing. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

They say derbies are unpredictable, but for a good 10 or 15 years, the outcome of the Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahçe games were easy to figure out. “If Fenerbahçe is in better shape, it wins,” Turkish pundit Hıncal Uluç once famously said. “If Galatasaray is in good form, Fener wins again.”

Uluç was rarely proven wrong in the 2000s, but tables have turned in the last 12 months.

After the six matches in the given period, Galatasaray can finally boast that it is over the fear factor in Fenerbahçe derbies. In the last six matches, Galatasaray was beaten just once by Fener, and managed to survive two finals in the process, claiming the Super League and Super Cup titles.

On Dec. 16, Galatasaray beat Fenerbahçe 2-1 at Türk Telekom Arena to cap an illustrious year with a derby win. The 2-1 win in the tight contest was hardly the flashiest score-line for a derby, but for Galatasaray, it was enough to open up a five-point gap against the other title contenders, not only Fenerbahçe but also Beşiktaş and Medical Park Antalyaspor. Furthermore, it was “more than just three points,” as Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim put it. It was about finally overcoming a psychological edge against Fener.

Psychological factor

When asked, Terim refused to speak about the psychological factor but hinted at why Galatasaray looked more comfortable on Dec. 16 than it usually did against Fenerbahçe.

“In these games, it is important to concentrate well. If you over-concentrate on a game, you can create tension. If you are under-concentrated, you have an important rival [to be wary of]. It was important to keep that balance,” he said. “And I believe that we were well-prepared.”

Of course, the Fenerbahçe camp will argue that they lost superiority to Galatasaray. Speaking to the club’s official television channel FB TV, chairman Aziz Yıldırım was quick to dismiss the worries, saying that the superiority would not be handed over until Galatasaray “wins a derby 6-0,” referring to his team’s arguably most successful derby victory on Nov. 6, 2002. To play Yıldırım’s advocate, Galatasaray is still yet to win an away derby since 1999, even though it managed to end Fenerbahçe’s winning streak with three consecutive draws.

However, for Galatasaray, “the derby syndrome” or “the fear factor” against Fenerbahçe looks to be over and, at least, the playing field is level right now. Concentration – a word that Galatasaray fans like to use and even put on the terraces of Türk Telekom Arena as a banner – looks to be the key, as Terim said. For example, remaining sober in the Fenerbahçe derbies looked to be the hardest thing for Galatasaray players. In an October 2009 meeting between the two teams, the Lions’ best player, Arda Turan, was the victim of likely over-concentration and started a fight with Fenerbahçe midfielder Cristian Baroni before the game even started. On another occasion in 2002, when not two or three, but four Galatasaray players were sent off the field also comes to mind.

However, in recent games, Galatasaray players managed to stay on their feet in Fenerbahçe clashes. During the two teams’ title-deciding match in May 12, it was Fenerbahçe’s Issiar Dia who had a meltdown and was sent off, dashing his team’s championship hopes.

On Dec. 16, Fenerbahçe’s Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles was sent off for a second bookable offense. However, remember that Galatasaray’s enfant terrible, Engin Baytar, was not included in the 18-man match squad - a single decision showing how much coach Terim was focused on helping his team get over the derby fear factor.


Dec 14, Friday
Eskişehirspor 2, Bursaspor 2

Dec 15, Saturday
Elazığspor 0, Gaziantepspor 0
Gençlerbirliği 1, Beşiktaş 1
Mersin İdman Yurdu 2, Akhisar 1

Dec 16, Sunday
Istanbul BB 2, Trabzonspor 1
Galatasaray 2, Fenerbahçe 1
Karabükspor 1, Sivasspor 0
Orduspor 1, Antalyaspor 1

Dec 17, Monday
Kayserispor 1, Kasımpaşa 0

1 Galatasaray 16 14 32
2 Beşiktaş 16 11 27
3 Fenerbahçe 16 8 27
4 Antalyaspor 15 6 27
5 Eskişehirspor 16 10 24
6 Bursaspor 16 6 23
7 Kasımpaşa 16 6 23
8 Trabzonspor 16 4 23
9 Karabükspor 16 -5 21
10 Gençlerbirliği 16 -1 20
11 Orduspor 16 0 19
12 Kayserispor 16 -5 19
13 Sivasspor 16 -5 19
14 Istanbul BB 16 -3 18
15 Gaziantepspor 16 -9 17
16 Elazığspor 16 -14 16
17 Mersin İdman Yurdu 16 -8 15
18 Akhisar 15 -15 11