Galatasaray scent glory as Turkish league goes to wire
Leader Galatasaray needs just a point to snare the title, but second-placed Fenerbahçe and third-placed Başakşehir both have a chance of grabbing first place in the 34th and final round of games.
Galatasaray, which has made a late surge under former Turkey national coach Fatih Terim, are on 72 points with Fenerbahçe and Başakşehir on 69.
Beşiktaş, champions in the last two seasons, are a point further adrift and cannot complete a historic hat-trick of Super Lig championships, but could still take second place and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Galatasaray needs a win or a draw in an away match at İzmir side Göztepe to win what would be their 21st league title.
But with Göztepe sitting sixth after a solid season, the visit to the Aegean coast will not be easy for Galatasaray.
Fenerbahçe and Başakşehir have home games against Konyaspor and Kasımpaşa respectively.
If Galatasaray loses and one or both of their rivals win - leaving them level on points - a complex variety of outcomes are on offer.
The first Super League tie-breaker is the head-to-head record of the sides who have finished level on points.
After that, it goes to goal difference, then goals scored.
Both games between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe ended 0-0. Goal difference is currently equal and since Fenerbahçe would have to win and Galatasary lose to create a tie, Fenerbahçe would have the edge.
If Galatasaray and Başakşehir end level on points, Başakşehir have the upper hand thanks to a 5-1 thrashing of their rivals in November.
And should all three end on equal points, Başakşehir will also win the title.
“We are just one point from the championship. But at Göztepe we must play like the champions and win,” Terim told daily Hürriyet.
Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe have traditionally dominated football in Istanbul and Turkey but this season has marked the arrival of Başakşehir as contenders.
Başakşehir has impressed with players of the calibre of former Arsenal stars Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor.
The season has been marked by controversy, notably when Beşiktaş refused to show up at a resumption of a Turkish Cup game against Fenerbahçe abandoned when their coach was hurt by an object thrown from the stands.
But player behavior has been as much as a problem as crowd trouble and this month Başakşehir’s Turkish star Arda Turan, on loan from Barcelona, was banned for a record 16 games after shoving an assistant referee.