Super Round 23 Review: Fenerbahce kings of Istanbul
Fenerbahce are back in the title race following a 1-0 victory over Galatasaray in the Intercontinental derby last weekend to maintain a 16-year unbeaten record against the Lions at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu stadium. The Red & Yellows have not won at the Yellow Canaries fortress since December 22, 1999.
The Yellow Canaries would have been seven points off pole position had they lost on Sunday and the pressure on Ismail Kartal would have been immense. However, the 49-year-old manager engineered a home victory and re-ignited the Yellow canaries title hopes in the process.
The home side snatched the win in the 81st minute, when the former Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt found the net in a counter attack, but that was only after the Canaries missed several guilt edge chances.
Fenerbahçe moved to 50 points with the win, one point behind leaders Galatasaray and Beşiktaş. The Lions, Black Eagles and Yellow Canaries are separated by only one point after 23 rounds of the Süper Lig for the first time since 1963-64 in what is the tightest title race in years.
Fenerbahce had an edge of Galatasaray throughout the game. They took more shots (22), had a higher pass accuracy percentage (77%), created more chances (13), made more crosses (33), won 71% of aerial duels and held 53% of possession.
Gokhan Gonul deserves special praise for his five star performance. The experienced right back maintained a passing accuracy of 89%, made three interceptions and created two goal scoring chances. In stark contract, Galatasaray’s right back Sabri Sarioglu had a passing accuracy of 59%, created no chances for his side.
Volkan Demirel also played a key role in the home side’s victory. The experienced goalkeeper made four saves including a miraculous stop against Yasin Oztekin late on in the game.
The difference between the two right backs sums ups the approach from both sides. Galatasaray were happy to sit back and hit Fenerbahce on the break but often found themselves pinned back with no outlet.
The Lion’s boss Hamza Hamzaoglu’s decision to drop Yasin and Bruma from the wings in favour of Telles and Umut backfired with the duo creating just three chances for their team between them.
Beşiktaş beat Sivasspor 1-0 on the road in Sunday’s other game to close in on Galatasaray. Both teams have 51 points each, but Galatasaray on goal difference.
Fenerbahçe will need to put their derby victory behind them and focus on this weekends trip to Ankara as play host to Genclerbirligi. The Ankara based side have been in atrocious form in recent weeks however, the Canaries have dropped points against relegation battlers Konyaspor and Akhisar Belediyespor in recent weeks.