Leader Sivasspor out to improve cushion
Turkish Süper Lig leader Sivasspor from eastern Turkey, which beat Istanbul’s Beşiktaş away in return from the winter break to make a statement that it is there to stay, will take on Black Sea’s Rizespor on Jan. 27 on the closing day of match week 19.
Three points ahead of its closest follower Fenerbahçe with one game in hand, Sivasspor wants to improve the cushion in the game on its own pitch and increase pressure on other title contenders.
The team is high in morale after qualifying in the Turkey Cup, and coach Rıza Çalımbay says his side is committed to improve in both competitions, the league and the cup.
“We are trying to be in both races,” he said after making it to the last eight in the cup despite bowing 2-1 to Malatyaspor in a second leg game.
Sivas empowered its squad during the break, signing Claudemir Domingues de Souza, the Brazilian midfielder from Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli.
“I am here to be a part of the team,” he said ahead of the game.
“It is great to be the leader.”
On Jan. 25, Başakşehir lost 2-0 away against Fenerbahçe to give its host the second spot on the league standings.
German striker Max Kruse broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, scoring the opener for Fenerbahce. He dribbled past his opponents to get free in the penalty area and put the ball into Başakşehir’s net with a low shot.
Near the end of the game at Ülker Stadium, Fenerbahçe doubled the gap, as forward Vedat Muriqi made a close-range finish. Muriqi was assisted by winger Garry Rodrigues from the right flank.
The win gave Fenerbahçe 37 points in 19 weeks, as third spot Başakşehir remained at 35 points.
Right behind the top three, Trabzonspor would visit Yeni Malatyaspor on Jan. 27 to climb higher, but the game was postponed by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) following a Jan. 24 earthquake that claimed lives both in the eastern province of Elazığ and neighboring Malatya province.
The football authority is yet to set a date for the game.
It has also postponed several lower-tier games.