Istanbul derby to decide fate of league title race
ISTANBULSpor Toto Super League leader Galatasaray hosts Beşiktaş this weekend in a game that could see the Istanbul club take the last step toward the league title.
Galatasaray is currently in the top spot, three points ahead of Fenerbahçe with two games to go in the season. A victory at Türk Telekom Arena against Beşiktaş on May 24 may secure the club its 20th Turkish league title if Fenerbahçe fails to win at toughie Istanbul Başakşehir one day later.
Having won its last five league games, Galatasaray is on a good run, while Beşiktaş is in a chaos after failing to win its last three games and slipping to third place.
The Beşiktaş board announced midweek that the club will part ways with Croatian coach Slaven Bilic at the end of the season, immediately starting the search for the squad’s new boss.
Against Galatasaray, Bilic will try not to become the first Beşiktaş coach to fail to win a single game against city rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe in a season.
In contrast to Beşiktaş, Galatasaray has been on a good run in Istanbul derbies. In the last four seasons, the league leader won 12 of 22 league and Super Cup games against its rivals, drawing six and losing only four. None of those lost games was against Beşiktaş.
Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu, whose future with the club is also in doubt even if he wins the trophy, said the derby’s result will directly affect the title race.
“We have come really well so far,” said the young coach, whose fate will be decided by the new club chairman to be elected at the congress on May 23. “God willing, we want to play well and leave the pitch with a victory in front of our own fans. It will not be an easy game, but we will do our best to win.”
The derby game will be officiated by Hüseyin Göcek, whose appointment to the game has irked the Beşiktaş front since the referee was a member of Galatasaray’s youth basketball team years ago.
Week 33 games in the Spor Toto Super League will also see a fierce battle in the race to fourth place and a Europa League berth for next season.
Trabzonspor, which is in the sixth spot with 53 points, four behind Istanbul Başakşehir, hosts already-relegated Balıkesirspor on May 23, while Bursaspor, which also has 53 points, travels to Akhisar Belediyespor on May 25.
In the week’s other games, Kasımpaşa entertains Kayseri Erciyesspor and Torku Konyaspor plays at home against Çaykur Rizespor on May 23.