Top two face off in crunch Turkish Super League match
Last season’s runner-up Başakşehir, based in the suburb with the same name in Istanbul, leads the league with 59 points after 28 games, two ahead of Galatasaray.
Defending champion Beşiktaş, which was scheduled to play at Akhisarspor late on April 13, is in third spot with 56 points and is trailed by city rival Fenerbahçe by two points.
Başakşheir’s performances against the “Big Three” Istanbul clubs has been more than impressive this season. The club, which changed its name from Istanbul Municipality to Başakşehir in June 2014, has lost only twice in its 17 league and cup games against Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, winning nine of those games.
It has an even more impressive record against Galatasaray, having won the last four games played between the two sides.
Under coach Abdullah Avcı, a former Turkish national team coach, Başakşehir has been constantly performing well in the top league since its promotion in the 2013-2014 season.
The club finished in the fourth spot in two consecutive seasons in 2015 and 2016, before being runner-up last season.
Avcı said he was delighted to be in the title race with the traditional three giants of Turkish football.
“We are enjoying it,” he said after last week’s 1-0 win against Malatyaspor when asked about his team situation in the league.
“Our stance will not change whether we win or lose the Galatasaray game. We bring joy to the league and it is important to be able to contribute to Turkish football. I hope the Galatasaray game will be an enthusiastic one within the spirit of fair play and I hope we will be the winning side,” Avcı added.
The weekend will also see a number of crucial games in the relegation zone.
Gençlerbirliği, a surprise winner last week against Galatasaray, travels to Kayserispor on April 15, while Konyaspor visits Antalyaspor on the same day.
Osmanlıspor, on the same number of points as Konyaspor, will host Trabzonspor in Week 29’s final game on April 16.
Fourth-placed Fenerbahçe will aim for a victory to keep pace with the top three teams when it travels to Sivasspor on April 14.
Bursaspor, which replaced coach Paul Le Guen with Mustafa Er after last week’s 1-0 home defeat against Kasımpaşaspor, will be at Göztepe on April 15.
On April 14, Karabükspor, already relegated from the top division, will travel to Istanbul to play Kasımpaşaspor, while Malatyaspor will entertain Alanyaspor.