Sivasspor taking firm steps to be Turkish champions
Turkey's top-tier football division 'Süper Lig' underdogs Demir Grup Sivasspor are targeting their first-ever major title.
A modest club with limited monetary resources, Sivasspor maintained their heroic run to rule the Süper Lig's first half.
This summer, the club signed 13 players on free transfer to strengthen the squad.
Sivasspor earned 37 points in 17 matches to feel safe and secure before the second part of this season.
The nearest opponents in the league table, Medipol Başakşehir from Istanbul, are chasing Sivasspor with 33 points. Trabzonspor come third with 32 points.
One of the 'Big Three', Fenerbahçe are currently in fourth spot with 31 points in the standings.
Beşiktaş are hot on Fenerbahçe's trail as they earned 30 points in the first half.
Title contenders in late 2000s
Sivasspor have never tasted the joy of being Turkish champions in history, but it's not the first time that they have become title contenders.
They joined the Süper Lig's title race in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 football seasons.
In the spring of 2008, Sivasspor completed the league in fourth place with 73 points, but Galatasaray became Turkish champions. The Lions had 79 points to clinch the league title.
Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş earned 73 points each to hold on to the competition that season.
After ending the Süper Lig in fourth place, Sivasspor became one of the teams-to-beat in the division.
They were the league runners-up the following year, with 66 points.
But Beşiktaş became the 2009 Turkish winners with 71 points. So their two-year-long steady march in the domestic league was ended.
In 2016, Sivasspor were relegated to a lower division, which meant a collapse for them.
They won the 2016-2017 first division to return to the Süper Lig.
This season, Sivasspor made a big move to top the division as they came 12th in the league last season.
Istanbul's 'Big Three' generally reign over league
The Turkish Süper Lig has been generally dominated by the Big Three: Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş.
Defending champions Galatasaray won it 22 times while Fenerbahçe had 19 Süper Lig titles.
Beşiktaş became the Turkish champs 15 times since 1959, the beginning of the Süper Lig.
Trabzonspor from the Black Sea region is one of the most respected clubs in Turkey, dominating the league in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nicknamed 'Black Sea Storm', Trabzonspor claimed the Süper Lig in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.
In the spring of 2010, Bursaspor won the Süper Lig title to break this mold, a sensational triumph surprising the Turkish football authorities.
Since then, Fenerbahçe were the 2011 and 2014 champions. Galatasaray won the Süper Lig in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2019.
Beşiktaş became the league winners in 2016 and 2017.
Malian forward Yatabare guides Sivasspor
This season, Sivasspor are led by Malian forward Mustapha Yatabare, who scored seven goals in 16 Süper Lig appearances.
Turkish left midfielder Emre Kılınç is another prominent Sivasspor member, netting six goals and producing four assists in 14 league matches.
A Sivasspor midfielder from Brazil, Fernando Andrade, scored five goals in 16 games.
The Süper Lig's second half will kick off on Jan. 19, 2020 and end on May 17, 2020.