There are some hugely important matches across Europe this weekend, but the Istanbul Derby between Galatasaray and Besiktas (Sunday, 12 p.m. ET) may just be the biggest.
The rivalry between the two sides is significant enough to make it a top match on any given weekend, but with four games remaining in the Turkish Super Lig, just one point separates the hosts, Galatasaray, who sit at the top of the table and their visitors, who are in third, behind Istanbul Basaksehir on goal difference alone. With fellow capital city club Fenerbahce just two points further back, we are in the remarkable position of a four-horse title race heading into the final month of the campaign.
Fuel to the Fire
As if it were needed, there’s been even more gas poured on the fire for the visitors in particular this week. Besiktas will approach this game feeling a great sense of injustice as they await Fenerbahce’s punishment for fan violence which forced their Turkish Cup semifinal to be abandoned in the second half after the home fans threw missiles onto the pitch — one of which struck coach Senol Guns leaving him requiring stitches — Besiktas were expecting their opponents to be disqualified.
Instead the Turkish FA’s decision to continue the match from its previous state, with the score at 0-0 and Besiktas down to ten men due to a red card for Pepe, has left the club enraged and sparked a decision to boycott the tie altogether. Make no mistake, the reigning champions feel victimized and will be out for revenge this weekend.