Derby day approaches, but what are the odds?
The Galatasaray – Fenerbahce derby is nearly upon us. As ever it’s certain to be a heated, hostile affair that will have a serious bearing on how the top of the Super Lig table will look on Saturday night. Also typical of this historic fixture is the fact that Saturday’s clash is a very hard game to call.
Like many of football’s great rivalries – such as Celtic and Rangers or Real Madrid and Barcelona – Galatasaray and Fenerbahce thoroughly dominate Turkish football. In fact, since 1995 one or the other of them has won the League title in all but three seasons (Besiktas snatched the prize in both 2003 and 2009 and Bursaspor won in 2010). Both teams have won the League 19 times, 6 more than any other team. In their domination of Turkish football the two Istanbul giants are close to inseparable.
They are also more or less inseparable in the current Super Lig standings. Going into the clash Fener and Gala are positioned in third and fourth position respectively with 10 points each and almost identical goal differences. The game is typically well poised and, with neither team showing their best form so far this season, both sets of players (not to mention their coaches) will fear a backlash should they emerge from the derby pointless.
The ramped up tension levels could lead to a cautious, safety-first encounter on Saturday, which means a low scoring draw looks like a sensible bet. Galatasaray boss Cesare Prandelli in particular will be under serious pressure if his team are beaten at home.
Nonetheless, while a cautious draw looks plausible it’s also worth bearing in mind that the home team has won this fixture on each of the last four league meetings and the last three cup clashes. Last season Galatasaray won 1-0 at the Türk Telekom Arena while Fenerbahce triumphed 2-0 at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. To some extent this trend is hardly surprising given the raucous hostility of the home support. Add to this the fact that Fenerbahce have failed to score on their last two trips across the Bosphorus and a home win begins to make sense.
The bookies are making Galatasaray firm favourites and punters won’t find better value than 23/20 on a home win (whereas the best odds on a Fener victory are currently 5/2) so 5/2 on a draw looks like a solid bet to us with 11-1 on 0-0 standing out a particularly good value.