FOOTBALL >Uneasy Beşiktaş takes on Fenerbahçe in crucial derby
Istanbul’s Fenerbahçe, the only side to consign league champion Beşiktaş to defeat in 27 official games at its new home, will visit the Vodafone Arena by the Bosphorus on May 7 in a game that could help determine the Super League season.
The Canaries, who are on 56 points and who are chasing second-placed Medipol Başakşehir, have been encouraged by the performance of Senegalese striker Moussa Sow, who scored twice last week against Çaykur Rizespor when he replaced a suspended Robin van Persie as the main striker.
Beşiktaş, which moved to Vodafone Arena on April 11, 2016, suffered its sole home defeat on Feb. 5 when van Persie scored the sole goal in a Turkey Cup last 16 game.
The Dutchman said he was excited about the derby.
“Everything was great in the first game. I am waiting for the game with excitement and I believe that we will win again,” media reports quoted him as saying.
Fenerbahçe boasts one of the best away records in the league, having posted eight wins in 15 clashes this season.
Beşiktaş, which has 64 points, bowed last week 3-1 to Başakşehir, its closest follower, in a match that allowed the upstart Istanbul side to close within four points with five games remaining.
Başakşehir was to play late on May 5 against Antalyaspor.
Another headache for the Black and Whites is an injury to Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, who is unlikely to appear against Fenerbahçe.
Past experience suggests breaking the deadlock will be crucial, as the sides that scored the first goal in the last 23 derbies have lost just twice, with four matches also ending in a draw. Beşiktaş, for its part, has won 19 of 21 league games in which it has scored first.
The game might be Fener coach Dirk Advokaat’s last derby against Beşiktaş as the media have speculated that he will not head the team next season.
Beşiktaş manager Şenol Güneş has already secured a new contract for next season, according to Beşiktaş officials.
Some 3,500 police officers and security guards will take extreme measures for the game, with several roads around the stadium to be closed to traffic.
Some 2,100 Fenerbahçe fans will be brought directly to the stadium in the afternoon from Fenerbahçe’s Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium on the Asian side of the city.
Fourth-placed Galatasaray, meanwhile, will play against city rival Kasımpaşa on May 6 at home, on a busy league day when Gençlerbirliği takes on cellar-dweller Adanaspor, Trabzonspor hosts Kayserispor and Aytemiz Alanyaspor visits Atıker Konyaspor.
On May 7, Çaykur Rizespor will host Bursaspor.
Kardemir Karabükspor will take on Osmanlıspor and Akhisar will host Gaziantepspor at home on May 8, the closing day of matchweek 30.