Wounded title hopefuls prepare for decisive derby
Two struggling title contenders of the Turkish Süper Lig will face off on the Anatolian side of Istanbul on Dec. 22, with both host Fenerbahçe and visitor Beşiktaş hoping to offset last week’s losses.
The archrivals have been involved in a social media clash ahead of the game, posting videos on their former victories against each other.
The video posted by the official Twitter account of Fener recalled a well-deserved reputation in home games against Beşiktaş, which has failed in its last 17 attempts to break the spell.
Fener won 10 Kadıköy derbies since 2005, with the remaining seven ending with draws.
The visitor’s video, meanwhile, hailed its last away win in an epic game that ended 4-3 in its favor, despite two of its players being sent off and Romanian midfielder Daniel Pancu having to wear the goalkeeper gloves in the 18 minutes.
Fener’s dominance over another title hopeful from Istanbul, Galatasaray, is even more dramatic with no home losses since 1999.
Still, Fener will need more than the magic of its Ülker Stadium, especially after a disappointing Dec. 15 loss to league leader Sivasspor, which improved the cushion with the Istanbul side to eight points, pushing it to the fifth spot.
Beşiktaş and Başakşehir are the closest followers of the leader with 27 points in 15 games, still six short of the top of the standings.
Following a Ziraat Turkey Cup a win over second-tier Istanbulspor on Dec. 18, Fener coach Ersun Yanal said he was satisfied with his team’s home performances.
“We know about the powers of our rival,” he said on the upcoming derby. “We are close on the standings, and we will be out there to win.”
He downplayed any problems that might derive from missing players, which now include midfielder Garry Rodrigues, who was sent off in the Sivas game.
Beşiktaş coach Abdullah Avcı enjoyed six consecutive wins before bowing 2-0 to Yeni Malatyaspor on Dec. 15, but he is also optimistic about the derby.
“Beşiktaş has always done all it could and will keep doing so. Derbies are special. We will forget about this loss and prepare for the Sunday game,” he said.
After seven consecutive league wins, a confident Sivasspor will visit Ankara’s Gençlerbirliği hours before the derby. Başakşehir will clash with Kayserispor below the relegation line.
On Dec. 23, the closing day of the week, Konyaspor will take on Black Sea giant Trabzonspor, and Denizlispor will play at home against Alanyaspor.