The game where East literally meets West. Galatasaray heralding from the European shores of Istanbul head over the Bosphorus to Asia where cross-city rivals Fenerbahçe lie-in-wait.
Fenerbahçe are undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs in Turkey boasting tens of millions of fans worldwide but the Yellow Canaries still manage to maintain the feel and culture of a neighbourhood team due to still being based in the Kadıköy-Fenerbahçe district of the city.
Unfortunately due to fan disturbances in the past away fans are no longer allowed in the major Istanbul derbies. That will not stop 50,000 raucous Fenerbahçe fans filling the Şükrü Saracoğlu and creating a deafening sound.
There is little celebrating the rivals going into the Intercontinental derby. Galatasaray are second while Fenerbahçe are third on goal difference. The Lions beat Benfica in the Champions League midweek while the Yellow Canaries also had European success beating Ajax in the Europa League.
Galatasaray have won four consecutive league games and have managed to cope with losing star man Felipe Melo on transfer deadline day remarkably well. Bilal Kısa has been more influential than initially expected in central midfield and Selçuk Inan is in great form while former Real Madrid midfielder Jose Rodriguez has also been fighting for a place in the centre of the park.
Fenerbahçe were the talk of the summer signing former Manchester United stars Robin van Persie, Luis Nani as well as Brazil international Josef de Souza, Lille defender Simon Kjaer and last seasons Turkish Super League goal king Fernandao.
Portuguese boss Vitor Pereira basically took over a completely new side to the one that finished the league as runners up last season so it is little surprise that his side have not completely gelled yet. The Yellow Canaries lack fluidity at times and their defensive organisation has been sloppy especially in dealing with set-pieces.
The Istanbul giants do however, possess several players capable of creating something out of nothing. Galatasaray do not exactly have anything even remotely resembling a solid defence which could prove costly against the likes of Van Persie, Nani or Fernandao.
The Lions have players capable of working magic as well especially in the form of Wesley Sneijder who was phenomenal against Benfica midweek.
Galatasaray are without a doubt the more settled side and the backbone of the team have played together for the last couple of seasons winning three out of the last four league titles.
Hamza Hamzaoğlu has few injury concerns to worry about other than long term absentee Hamit Altıntop and Burak Yılmaz faces a late fitness test. Whether Yılmaz starts will have a major influence on the potency of the Lions attack. Umut Bulut has been ineffective this season and his confidence is in tatters. Yılmaz has three goals in six league games and is undoubtedly along with Lukas Podolski the Yellow-Reds main goalscoring threat.
Fenerbahçe have not exactly set the league alight this season but it is worth considering that Galatasaray have not beat their rivals in the Şükrü Saracoğlu since 1999-00. The Canaries have such an impressive record against Galatasaray that many people believe there is a black magic at work. Galatasaray will break their 15 year old curse if they manage to beat their cross-city rivals today but if I was a betting man I wouldn’t advise backing the Lions.
Stadium: Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadyumu
Referee: Fırat Aydınus
Kick-Off: 19.00 (Local Time)
FENERBAHÇE: Volkan, Gökhan Gönül, Ba, Kjaer, Caner, Mehmet Topal, Josef de Souza, Diego, Markovic, Nani, Van Persie
MANAGER: Vitor Pereira
GALATASARAY: Muslera, Sabri, Chedjou, Hakan Balta, Carole, Selçuk, Bilal, Jose, Podolski, Sneijder, Umut
MANAGER: Hamza Hamzaoğlu