Giants look to improve form in first big derby

Giants look to improve form in first big derby

Giants look to improve form in first big derby

Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş aim to keep the pace with Super League leader Galatasaray. Hürriyet photo

Fenerbahçe hosts Beşiktaş for a derby on Oct. 7 in which the two Istanbul giants will be looking to improve the poor starts they have made to the Spor Toto Super League season.

The clash at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium is not only the highlight of the seventh round in the Super League, but also the first big derby of the campaign. Both of the two Istanbul rivals could have won just two of their opening six matches in the standings, and have fallen behind defending champion and city neighbor Galatasaray. The titleholder has 13 points, while Fenerbahçe is sixth with nine points and Beşiktaş is 10th with eight points. Some modest sides, such as Kasımpaşa, Orduspor or Sivasspor, have also made better starts than championship hopefuls Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş.

Fenerbahçe had a more turbulent build-up to the derby, spending the week with the Alex de Souza controversy. The club’s captain asked for the termination of his contract when the player was faced with a ban that would have left him out of the squad and training with the reserves indefinitely.

The fans’ criticism of Coach Aykut Kocaman and club Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, those behind the Alex decision, has been intense all through the week, and the issue has been at the top of the Turkish sports agenda, with counter-statements coming from both sides. Alex will hold a press conference on Oct. 8, in which he has promised to reveal all the details behind the abrupt ending of his eight-year spell at Fenerbahçe. The club’s Vice President Ali Yıldırım, brother of the chairman, will also hold a press conference to defend the club’s decision. Kocaman is expected to attend the conference, which is scheduled for next week.

However, Fenerbahçe found some relief midweek with a convincing 4-2 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Europa League. The win eased some of the pressure from Kocaman’s shoulders and gave fans hope that the team can cope with life without Alex, who had scored a stunning 172 goals in his 340 matches with the club.

Beşiktaş, on the other hand, comes to the match on the back of a two-game losing streak. After allowing a lead to slip away in a 3-2 defeat at Gaziantepspor, the Black Eagles then suffered a home defeat at the hands of Sivasspor. Left winger Uğur Boral is likely to miss the game due to injury, while Portuguese forward Hugo Almeida, who scored the only goal in the two teams’ last meeting on May 3, has returned from a minor injury and is available for selection.

The derby will be only open to women and children, because it is the fourth match in five-match ban for Fenerbahçe, after crowd trouble erupted in last year’s final match against Galatasaray.

Also on Oct. 7, Mersin İdman Yurdu hosts Kayserispor and Sivasspor meets Bursaspor. Leader Galatasaray will try to bounce back from two consecutive defeats, one against Orduspor in the league and another against Braga in the Champions League, when it hosts Eskişehirspor on Oct. 6. Also on that day, Istanbul BB hosts Gençlerbirliği and Sanica Boru Elazığspor takes on Akhisar.