Winners in Europe set for derby clash

Winners in Europe set for derby clash

Winners in Europe set for derby clash

DHA Photo

Turkey’s biggest football rivalry will be renewed on Oct. 25 when Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, both buoyed by mid-week victories on the European stage, clash at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu in a Spor Toto Super League game.

Both teams head into the Istanbul derby on a high note, with Galatasaray beating Benfica 2-1 in a Champions League match on Oct. 21, and Fenerbahçe winning 1-0 at home against Ajax in the Europa League.

A late header by substitute Fernandao propelled Fenerbahçe to a crucial Group A win over Ajax for the Istanbul club’s first victory in the Europa League group stage this season.

Coming on to replace Robin van Persie on 72 minutes, Fernandao showcased his aerial prowess to power the ball past goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with one minute of regulation time remaining.

Fenerbahçe became the first Turkish club to win an official game against the Dutch side, as the Amsterdam giants had won all eight of its games against Turkish sides until losing to Fenerbahçe.

Fenerbahçe coach Vitor Pererira, who has been under fire for his side’s shaky performances, was defiant after the victory.

“We wanted to make a strong statement against every one and we did,” said the Portuguese, whose job is reportedly hanging in balance heading into the crucial derby.

“We will take a stronger stand in the Galatasaray match together with our fans,” he added. “We want to prove once again that we have a team that has character.”

Pereira also thanked the club’s fans for their support until the very last minute. “They were the driving force behind this victory,” he said.

Galatasaray, on the other hand, will be out to break its “Kadıköy jinx,” having last defeated Fenerbahçe away over 16 years ago.

Since a 2-1 win on Dec. 22, 1999, Galatasaray has visited Fenerbahçe for 19 official games; 16 in the league and three in the Turkish cup. The visiting side has only secured a draw in four of them, losing 15 times.

According to Fatih İşceber, the secretary-general of Galatasaray, the statistics mean nothing and it is their
time to win.

“We are unaffected by the winless streak, it is just numbers,” he said. “There are some interesting statistics, such as ‘the longest throw-in.’ Such statistics that don’t actually mean anything will not psychologically affect us. If there is fair refereeing, Galatasaray will do what is necessary and return with three points.”

Also in the Spor Toto Super League, leader Beşiktaş will travel to Antalyaspor on Oct. 26. Having grabbed a 1-1 draw at Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League on Oct. 22, the Black Eagles will aim to extend their stay atop the standings.

Elsewhere in the league this weekend, Gençlerbirliği hosts Osmanlıspor in an Ankara derby, Bursaspor visits Kasımpaşaspor, Gaziantepspor takes on Mersin İdmanyurdu and Trabzonspor travels to Sivasspor on Oct. 24. 

Başakşehir plays Torku Konyaspor at home on Oct. 25.