Down to the final stretch!

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Updated: March 6, 2018

With an emphatic 0-2 win away at Trabzonspor last night, Beşiktaş re-affirm themselves as top contenders for the Turkish league championship this season.

While both Galatasaray and Istanbul Başakşehir are 3 points ahead of the Black Eagles, the two recent victories over rivals Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor will have given Beşiktaş a much needed boost in confidence as they head in to the final 10 match stretch.

Fenerbahçe, who two weeks ago were still 3 points ahead of Beşiktaş, have seemingly bowed out of the title race as they followed up their 3-1 derby loss against Beşiktaş with a 2-3 home defeat at the hands of Okan Buruk’s Akhisar Belediye. Fenerbahçe now find themselves 6 points a drift fromt he top of the table and while they still have an excellent mathematical chance, it doesn’t look like this will be Aykut Kocaman’s year.

Galatasaray on the other hand absolutely demolished Kardemir Karabükspor, 0-7 on the road, now that’s something you don’t see every day. Granted, Karabükspor have lost almost all of their key players due to financial issues but it’s still an impressive scoreline regardless.
Istanbul Başakşehir had a tougher opponent ont he weekend as they faced Tamer Tuna and Demba Ba’s Göstepe, Abdullah Avci’s men came through with a solid 2-0 victory over the Süper Lig’s number 8.

So now it’s down to the 10 final games of the season, 30 more points to be earned or squandered. Below the schedule for all 4 title contenders will be listed and we’ll take a closer look and try to assess the difficulty for each team.

GALATASARAY (5 home, 5 away)

(H) vs. Atiker Konyaspor
(A) vs. FENERBAHCE
(H) vs. TRABZONSPOR
(A) vs. Gençlerbirligi
(H) vs. ISTANBUL BASAKSEHIR
(A) vs. Alanyaspor
(H) vs. BESIKTAS
(A) vs. Akhisar Belediye
(H) vs. Yeni Malatyaspor
(A) vs. Göztepe

ISTANBUL BASAKSEHIR (5 home, 5 away)

(A) vs. Alanyaspor
(H) vs. BESIKTAS
(A) vs. Akhisar Belediye
(H) vs. Yeni Malatyaspor
(A) vs. GALATASARAY
(H) vs. Kayserispor
(A) vs. Osmanlispor
(H) vs. Sivasspor
(A) vs. Antalyaspor
(H) vs. Kasimpaşa

BESIKTAS (6 home, 4 away)

(H) vs. Gençlerbirligi
(A) vs. ISTANBUL BASAKSEHIR
(H) vs. Alanyaspor
(H) vs. Göztepe
(A) vs. Akhisar Belediye
(H) vs. Yeni Malatyaspor
(A) vs. GALATASARAY
(H) vs. Kayserispor
(A) vs. Osmanlispor
(H) vs. Sivasspor

FENERBAHCE (5 home, 5 away)

(A) vs. Yeni Malatyaspor
(H) vs. GALATASARAY
(A) vs. Kayserispor
(H) vs. Osmanlispor
(A) vs. Sivasspor
(H) vs. Antalyaspor
(A) vs. Kasimpaşa
(H) vs. Bursaspor
(A) vs. Kardemir Karabükspor
(H) vs. Atiker Konyaspor

 

Başakşehir vs Beşiktaş in two weeks will have major title implications, these two sides seem to have the upper hand schedule wise and the eventual Champion is likely to one of these two, whoever comes out ahead in this match will more than likely lift the trophy at the end of the season. Last season Başakşehir beat Beşiktaş 3-1 at home, it was their last chance and they had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Now however they are in a weird position, they have the lead, they didn’t lose at Vodafone Park so they have better head to head if they come out as winners (which could be crucial this season) but they can’t afford to drop points with Galatasaray breathing down their neck. It being a 3 or even 4 horse title race puts additional pressure on all teams, drop points at this stage and you’ll have to catch up to 2 or even 3 teams. Last season it felt like Beşiktaş went in to that match thinking they had already won the title, this time there will be no underestimation and the players know what to expect from Başakşehir. The tables are turned now aswell, in which Başakşehir will have something to lose. In that same weekend Fenerbahçe host Galatasaray, this tends to always end in either a Fenerbahçe win or a draw, Galatasaray have proven thusfar that they don’t show up in big games, they haven’t won a single match against their traditional rivals Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor and the addition of Başakşehir. Bafétimbi Gomis has been absolutely on fire, scoring 24 goals thusfar but apart from one of those goals they all came against the ‘smaller’ teams in the league, not a knock on Gomis, it says more about Galatasaray as a team and their inability to dominate and control a match against a stronger or equal opponent. Should Galatasaray somehow come away with a victory in Kadiköy, that could really give them the edge in the title race and the confidence they need.
So really, the title won’t be decided until the final few weeks but matchday 26 with Başakşehir playing Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe playing Galatasaray will undoubtedly be a huge deciding factor, unless both game would happen to end in draws (although that would mean the end for Fenerbahçe’s title aspirations, no doubt).
Beşiktaş have 6 home games, more than any of their rivals, all 6 of those home games come against opponents they should be beating with no excuse. 18 points from those games ia an absolute must for them and Beşiktaş have the home reputation and form to do exactly that. Başakşehir have 5 home games and they play largely the same opponents as Beşiktaş do, they too should be winning those matches but Başakşehir don’t have that solid home reputation that Beşiktaş have and have struggled both this and last season against solid opponents. Sivasspor, Kayserispor and Malatyaspor and even Kasimpaşa could give them a tough match and of course Beşiktaş will prove to be a difficult opponent.

Galatasaray also have 5 home games, but contrary to both Beşiktaş and Başakşehir, they definitely don’t ahve easier opponent. They’ll play first Trabzonspor, followed by Başakşehir and finally they’ll play Beşiktaş, those 3 home games will follow eachother and the possibility of them dropping several points in those 3 home games could rattle their chances completely. If Galatasaray come out of the Fenerbahçe derby with a victory, they will undoubtedly have additional confidence headed in to these games, however if they don’t these games could prove very tough mental and physical challenges.

Away from home Beşiktaş arguably have the toughest schedule, they only have 4 away games but two of those are against Başakşehir and Galatasaray with a third being on the road against Akhisar, a traditionally difficult opponent and Okan Buruk’s team has been in tremendous form this season, even making it to the semi finals of the Turkish cup.
With Fenerbahçe, Gençlerbirligi, Akhisar and Göztepe, Galatasaray have 4 tests on the road themselves. Traditionally Galatasaray never seem to struggle with Akhisar, but Gençlerbirligi has proven a tough nut to crack in recent months and Göztepe are simply a decent side with a great home atmosphere, this will be on the final matchday however and it may not even matter anymore at that point. Fenerbahçe away however is pretty much a guaranteed loss of points for Galatasaray, they’re going to have to break that curse as they haven’t won there in 20 years.

Finally let’s take a look at Fenerbahçe’s full schedule, Malatyaspor is up first and could prove a tough customer in their new stadium. But their final chance will come the following week against Galatasaray. If Fenerbahçe beat Galatasaray they could have a final go at the title, theoretically Fneerbahçe have the ‘easiest’ remaining schedule after that as they don’t play any direct opponents after that. But if anything Fenerbahçe have shown this season that any match can be a struggle for them, home and away. Sivasspor away is no picnic, they beat both Beşiktaş and Galatasaray in recent months. Kayserispor and Kasimpaşa won’t be pushovers either. Fenerbahçe do end the season with two matches they really should be winning, Karabükspor away is nearly a guaranteed 3 points at this stage and Konyaspor could already be relegated by the time they face them at home, however if Konyaspor aren’t safe but still have a chance to save themselves, that too could prove a very difficult game for them.

At the end of the day Fenerbahçe aren’t in control of their own destiny anymore. Galatasaray, Başakşehir and Beşiktaş all live with the knowledge that if they win all of their remaining games they are guaranteed to be champions. Fenerbahçe on the other hand depend completely of the results of their opponents.

Kaan Bayazit
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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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