Only pride at stake in Istanbul derby

Only pride at stake in Istanbul derby

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Only pride at stake in Istanbul derby

Galatasaray hopes to get its first victory at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium since 1999, while Fenerbanhçe hopes to extend its longstanding unbeaten run at home in derby games. DHA photo

Nothing but pride will be at stake on May 12, when champion Galatasaray visits Fenerbahçe to renew Turkish football’s biggest rivalry.

Galatasaray successfully retained its Spor Toto Super League title with a 4-2 win over Sivasspor last week, opening up an unassailable 10-point lead over Fenerbahçe with two matches to go. Now that the title is won, and Fenerbahçe is almost guaranteed to keep its runner-up spot ahead of Beşiktaş, it could be seen that the Istanbul derby would lack its usual glitter. That is not true, though. Even though there is nothing more than pride at stake, that is enough to make the derby the biggest game of the Super League’s 33rd match day.

For the Lions, April 5’s match put an end to the team’s dismal away record in the last decade. It was 1999 when Galatasaray last won a game at Fenerbahçe’s Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, and even though the Lions have turned their fortunes around recently, they still need a win to break the negative streak. The last three derbies in the Asian part of the city ended in a draw, meaning the consecutive 10-match losing streak ended for Galatasaray.

However, it will not be easy for Galatasaray to concentrate for the game, just a week after celebrating its 19th Super League title. Apparently, in trying to have his players prepare for the derby, coach Fatih Terim cut the team’s title celebrations at the Türk Telekom Arena short, saying that the real celebrations would come at the end of the season.

Surely Fenerbahçe aims to maintain its unbeaten run at its home, but more than that, the Yellow Canaries need a win to end their season on a high note. Fenerbahçe started the month of May with hopes of a treble, including league, the Europa League and the Turkish Cup, but it is only left with the latter now. After beating Eskişehirspor on May 8 on penalties, Fenerbahçe’s biggest target is the domestic cup final on May 22, but whatever the circumstances are, the derby will be Turkey’s most important and most thrilling fixture.

The game will be officiated by Cüneyt Çakır, Turkey’s highest-profile referee.

The game at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium will start at 8 p.m. on May 12.