Wounded Fenerbahçe sets sights on Galatasaray derby

Wounded Fenerbahçe sets sights on Galatasaray derby

Wounded Fenerbahçe sets sights on Galatasaray derby

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Spor Toto Super League title hopeful Fenerbahçe will travel to Galatasaray on March 20 for an Istanbul derby which will be crucial in the race for the trophy, following a disappointing night on the European stage.

The Yellow Canaries were reduced to eight men in a 4-1 defeat at Braga in a Europa League round of 16 second leg game on March 17, bidding farewell to the competition 4-2 on aggregate. 

The game was considered a “refereeing disaster” by many Fenerbahçe and Turkish fans, who argued a penalty awarded to the home side in the first half and a red card shown to the visiting side’s Mehmet Topal were “ridiculous.”

Turkish newspapers on March 18 were severely critical of the referee, Ivan Bebek of Croatia. 

“A murderer named Bebek” was the headline for daily Hürriyet’s story, while sports daily Fanatik called him a “baby-faced murderer,” since the referee’s surname, Bebek, means “baby” in Turkish.

Fenerbahçe coach Vitor Pereira, who was also sent off by Bebek, was furious after the game.

“We were knocked out because of the referee,” he told a post-game press conference. “We had targets for the Europa League, now we are out. We are sad, but the saddest thing is having being knocked out like this. We should have been beaten within the limits of football.”

Fener’s Portuguese coach noted his side needed to bounce back quickly. 

“The league is a different competition,” he said. “We are one point behind Beşiktaş and the Galatasaray derby is very important. We must react quickly and forget about the Europa League.”

Fenerbahçe’s archrival, Galatasaray, meanwhile, will be playing its first game under newly-appointed coach Jan Olde Riekerink. The Dutchman, who previously had headed the Istanbul club’s youth academy, was chosen for the post on March 16, two weeks after former coach Mustafa Denizli resigned. 

Trailing leader Beşiktaş by 21 points in the fifth spot, Galatasaray has no real chances to win the title, however, a derby game against Fenerbahçe is always a big matter and the players will do their best to give their fans something to cheer about. 

League leader Beşiktaş, meanwhile, will host Antalyaspor on March 19. With only two wins and two draws in 12 games, Antalyaspor, whose squad includes star striker Samuel Eto’o, has one of the worst away performances in the league and is not expected to pose much of a threat to high-flying Beşiktaş.

In other games on March 19, Trabzonspor hosts Sivasspor and Gençlerbirliği makes the short trip to play city rival Osmanlıspor.

Elsewhere, Konyaspor entertains Başakşehir, Gaziantepspor visits Mersin İdmanyurdu and Bursaspor take on Kasımpaşa at home on March 20.