STSL week 29: Başakşehir – Beşiktaş

Updated: April 29, 2017

While the season still has six more games to go this upcoming Sunday’s match between league leaders Beşiktaş and closest followers Istanbul Başakşehir could be deemed the ‘season finale’ already.

Beşiktaş are going in to this match with a 7 point lead on their Istanbul rivals and with a victory could put them on 10 points, with just 5 more matches to go after that. To put it bluntly, it’s do or die for Istanbul Başakşehir, who are looking to pull off a Leicester’esque fairytale this season.

For much of the first half of the season Başakşehir were dominating the Turkish football scene, beating Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Trabzonspor and drawing reigning champions Beşiktaş during the first half of the season, going unbeaten for 18 games until they were finally brought to their knees by Fenerbahçe on matchday 19.

However, whilst Başakşehir had gone so long unbeaten during the first half of the season and were rarely dropping points. They’ve repeatedly dropped points during the second half of the season, which has allowed the Black Eagles to not only catch up but to overtake the surprising ‘winter champions’.

While Beşiktaş had a tough European schedule, with Champions League football and reaching the quarter-finals in the Europa League. Başakşehir were eliminated early on by Shakthar Donetsk in the Europa League play-offs, which allowed them to focus completely on the league. Many expected the busy schedule to catch up to Beşiktaş and that Başakşehir could pull off an upset as the Black Eagles tired as the season continued. But now, six games from the ending of the season, Beşiktaş can all but finish the job if they manage to beat their closest rivals.

With Cenk Tosun returning from suspension and Vincent Aboubakar on fire lately, there are plenty of options for Şenol Güneş

With Fenerbahçe 11 points behind and Galatasaray 15 points behind, Başakşehir are the only real challengers left for Beşiktaş and a win on Sunday could potentially seal their 15th Turkish league championship.

Başakşehir lost precious points this past weekend in Rize as they played to a spectacular, but also controversial, 3-3 draw in the Black Sea area. Two precious points that gave Beşiktaş a 7 point cushion as they beat Adnaaspor on Monday 3-2. Başakşehir players were frustrated after the match against Rizespor and after two journalists tried to film captain Emre Belözoglu having a verbal argument with a fan, several players attacked them in an attempt to prevent them from catching the verbal scuffle on film.

As a result reserve goalkeeper Ufuk Ceylan and experienced centre back Yalçin Ayhan have received a 5 match ban, of which they’ve already served one. National team goalkeeper Volkan Babacan was also caught on security footage throwing atleast one punch, but got off with a surprisingly lenient 1 match ban, which he has already served as Başakşehir played Fenerbahçe in the Turkish cup semi-finals first leg on Wednesday which ended in a 2-2 draw, with two goals from youngster Cengiz Ünder.

So Başakşehir will be happy that their first choice goalkeeper will be available for Sunday’s match, but Yalçin Ayhan and Alexandru Epureanu (yellow card suspension) won’t be, in addition their two back up central defenders Egemen Korkmaz and Bekir Irtegün are both out injured. That leaves their coach Abduallah Avci in somewhat of a pickle as he has no true central defenders left, adding insult to injury defensive midfielder Mahmut Tekdemir suffered a broken nose on Wednesday against Fenerbahçe which leaves him with one less alternative as he is expected not to be ready to play on Sunday.

Beşiktaş on their part aren’t missing any players and have their entire squad available, 3 players are one yellow card away from serving a one match suspension: Dusko Tosic, Atinç Nukan and most notably Atiba Hutchinson. Beşiktaş play Fenerbahçe on matchday 30 at the Vodafone Arena and that could under certain circumstances even be the game in which they mathematically win the title, but then they have to beat Başakşehir first and Fenerbahçe the following match, while Başakşehir has to drop points away at Antalyaspor.

The Black Eagles had a minor injury scare on Friday as Vincent Aboubakar had to leave training a bit early with an apparant injury, but the Cameroon international should be good to go on Sunday. Topscorer Cenk Tosun returns from serving his yellow card suspension.

Spor Toto Süper Lig
Istanbul Başakşehir – Beşiktaş JK
Location: Başakşehir Fatih Terim
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır
Date: Sunday, April 30th
Time: 19:00 (CET)
Channel: Bein Sports Türkiye
Matchday 29

Istanbul Başakşehir predicted XI:

Volkan Babacan; Eren Albayrak – Joseph Attamah – Uğur Uçar – Junior Caiçara; Emre Belözoğlu – Samuel Holmén – Marcio Mossoró; Cengiz Ünder – Emmanuel Adebayor – Edin Visca

Beşiktaş predicted XI:

Fabricio Ramirez; Gökhan Gönül – Marcelo Guedes – Dusko Tosic – Adriano Correia; Atiba Hutchinson – Oğuzhan Özyakup – Anderson Talisca; Ricardo Quaresma – Cenk Tosun – Ryan Babel

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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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