ISTANBUL - There are two weeks to go in the Turkcell Super League, but Beşiktaş hopes to finish the job early when it takes on Galatasaray this Sunday. If it manages to win the league this weekend, it will be a recreation of the team's famous title in its centennial year, when the Black Eagles clinched the league over the Lions
Beşiktaş will arguably play its most important game in recent history when it welcomes Galatasaray in the Turkcell Super League.
Leading the league with a two-point advantage over Sivasspor, Beşiktaş is close to achieving its first title in six years, and its first trophy double in 19 years. This Sunday's derby match against Galatasaray looks the more difficult of the two games remaining.
Beşiktaş will travel to play relegation-battling Denizlispor next weekend, while Sivasspor will have to take on Galatasaray on the last day of the season next week. For Beşiktaş to make full use of this advantage, a win over the Lions is a must. Speaking after last Sunday's Ankaragücü game, coach Mustafa Denizli said that Beşiktaş would not let the title chance slip from their hands.
"We want to win the title when the league wraps up in two weeks," he said. "We will do anything to maintain this position."
Denizli also said that despite the presumptions that the title race would go down to the wire his Black Eagles might finish the weekend as the champions of the Turkish league's 50th season. "We may win it this weekend," he said.
Reminding a memory
If Beşiktaş wins the derby, it will win the league, if Sivasspor fails to beat Gençlerbirliği, in one of the eight games to be played at 8 p.m. Sunday. Such victory over Galatasaray would no wonder bring the memories of Beşiktaş's historic 2003 campaign, when the two teams played in the 33rd week of the season on May 25, 2003. The Black Eagles won the title over their archrivals with a famous 1-0 victory that came with a single goal by Sergen Yalçın in the 90th minute to win the title in front of their fans. What made this victory even sweeter for Beşiktaş was the fact that it was its centennial year. That was the last time Beşiktaş won the Turkish league, and despite being in contention a couple of times in the last six years, the Istanbul side has never come this close to the trophy. So, Beşiktaş would dearly like to recreate "the spirit of 2003" to win the league again.
Statistically speaking, Beşiktaş should win the league, as it is only once in the last two decades that the team that holds the top spot with two weeks to go has failed to win the league. Only Galatasaray in the 2005-2006 campaign managed to win the league from outside the top, when it took over from Fenerbahçe in the last week.
There is little doubt Beşiktaş will do anything to avoid such an upset and it will be helped by an electric atmosphere at the İnönü Stadium. However, the Beşiktaş board has done little to help the fans help the team. Knowing that the fans would try to be there at any cost, the Beşiktaş board has set record-high prices for the game. The tickets for the match are valued from 90 liras to 500 liras, about three times the usual price, which looks a harsh pricing policy to say the least. The tickets were yet to be sold out at the time the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press, which is unusual for a possible title-deciding match, but it will be probably sell out over the weekend. Meanwhile, two Anatolian clubs will be hoping that Galatasaray manages a surprise win to lure the title away from Istanbul. Sivasspor welcomes Gençlerbirliği and Trabzonspor plays at Eskişehirspor on Sunday. If Beşiktaş wins, Sivasspor may still carry its hopes till the very end, while Trabzonspor loses all hopes of a league victory. Sivasspor and Beşiktaş will be level on points if Sivas wins while the Istanbul derby ends in a draw. Finally, Sivas may take over the top spot if Galatasaray prevails as the winner of Sunday's clash. However, even if the top spot changes this weekend, the race is likely to be wide open till the end of the final whistle of the season.
CURRENT SITUATION OF TURKISH LEAGUE
STANDINGS GP Pts. GD
1. Beşiktaş 32 65 +28
2. Sivasspor 32 63 +26
3. Trabzonspor 32 62 +18
4. Galatasaray 32 58 +19
5. Fenerbahçe 32 55 +21
6. Bursaspor 32 54 +10
7. Gaziantepspor 32 45 -2
8. Kayserispor 32 44 +7
9. Ankaraspor 32 40 -3
10. Eskişehirspor 32 39 -1
11. Istanbul Mun. 32 39 -13
12. Gençlerbirliği 32 38 -7
13. Denizlispor 32 38 -9
14. Ankaragücü 32 36 -13
15. Antalyaspor 32 36 -9
16. Konyaspor 32 35 -12
17. Kocaelispor 32 26 -29
18. Hacettepe 32 22 -34