Leader Galatasaray plans to steal Fenerbahçe’s European limelight

Leader Galatasaray plans to steal Fenerbahçe’s European limelight

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Leader Galatasaray plans to steal Fenerbahçe’s European limelight

Fenerbahçe will host Kayseri between two crucial matches against Benfica. Galatasaray (inset) will be hoping that Fener will be done by a congested fixture, leading the way to retain its league title. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Galatasaray could officially retain its Spor Toto Super League title ahead of Fenerbahçe as the two Istanbul archrivals play their respective games at the same time on April 28.

Defending champion Galatasaray visits Gaziantepspor and Fenerbahçe hosts Kayserispor at 8 p.m. to close the curtain on the Super League’s weekend number 31.

With four weeks left, Galatasaray holds a significant seven-point lead over Fenerbahçe and could claim its 19th league title with a win on April 28. However, it does not only need to beat Gaziantepspor on an away field, but it also needs Kayserispor to beat Fenerbahçe at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, which hosted one of the Yellow Canaries’ best-ever performances in Europe a fortnight ago.

Fenerbahçe defeated Benfica 1-0 in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal, taking an upper hand to make it to the final of the competition. The Kayserispor match comes right in the middle of the two Benfica meetings and with the seven-point advantage standing still, the league demoted to being the second priority for Fenerbahçe.

No request for fixture postponing

Speaking after the Benfica victory, Kocaman answered a question about whether the team would request a postponement of the Kayserispor fixture.

“There’s no need for that,” Kocaman said. “We will get along with the power we have.”

On April 25, Fenerbahçe battled its way to a valuable 1-0 victory, but with three shots coming off the crossbar, including a missed penalty by Cristian Baroni, it has the right to feel that the score line did not do justice to its superior play.

“We should not worry about balls hitting the post. On the other side, we could see that luck was on our side, we won in the end,” Kocaman said. “It is not a really strong step, but it is a step turning the odds 51 percent on our side.”

Now Fenerbahçe is tantalizingly close to its first European final, which will be played in Amsterdam on May 15. However, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus refuses to concede the tie yet.

“Normally we are a team that delivers when we find opportunities, but tonight we couldn’t do that,” Jesus told reporters. “But the result is not too bad, we will remain hopeful until the last minute of the second leg. We will be much better in Lisbon.”

Apart from the two Istanbul giants’ clashes, the only remaining match on April 28 is between Kasımpaşa and Eskişehirspor at 4 p.m. On April 27 the relegation battle will be intensified with four games starting at 8 p.m.

Mersin İdman Yurdu became the first team to lose the relegation battle last week and this weekend Orduspor, which has 29 points, risks being relegated with a defeat to Beşiktaş, depending on other results.

Sanica Boru Elazığspor (35 points) hosts Kardemir Karabükspor (37 points), fourth Bursaspor takes on Akhisar (35 points) and Sivasspor (37 points) meets Istanbul BB (33 points).

Elsewhere, Trabzonspor and Gençlerbirliği will play in a midtable battle.