On the Final Stretch in Turkey
The season in Turkey is coming to an end. With only five weeks to go, the team leading the table is Bursaspor, a team probably not much familiar to those from outside of Turkey.
Bursa is one of the biggest cities (fourth in terms of population) in Turkey and its team has quite some reputation within the nation. Shortly after they were founded they were promoted to the top league of Turkey and never relegated until 2004. The failed to jump back to where they belong in the following year, but 2006 was the year that they were back in the Premier League. It only took three years for them to chase the championship in this top level competition in Turkey.
Founded in 1963 they play their home games in their 20,000 capacity stadium, Bursa Atatürk. The have won the Turkish Cup in 1985-86, other than that they do not have any major trophy in their cupboard. They are also famous for their fans, hot and exciting. They call themselves Teksas while the team is called the Crocodiles.
At the beginning of the season they were not one of the usual favorites. But they managed to climb up the ranks when Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Besiktas were struggling all together. Kayserispor joined them on the top spot for a while but they were not able to hang in there for quite so long. Right now the green-and-whites are being chased by Fenerbahçe, trailing by only a single point. Right after Sari Kanaryalar comes the other two favorites of the title, both with a difference of five points with the leader.
When compared in terms of budget and support in all over the country the success of Bursaspor shines even more. In the past two years Sivasspor mounted a serious title challenge too but the city's culture and reputation in national football failed them in a way. They were not able to keep it up with the stress that the championship title challenge brings.
Bursaspor too seems to be struggling at times, they lost some unexpected points in the last couple of weeks but they have a fixture advantage on their side. In the remaining five weeks they have only one away game remaining. That away game will be against Galatasaray who is trying to chase the title as much as Bursaspor does so that single away game will not be a piece of cake. They will be playing against Gaziantepspor, Kayserispor and Besiktas at home ground. These games will not be easy for them too but if they are to win the league they have to cope with it. They have a game which is decided 3-0 on their behalf because of FA's decision to relegate Ankaraspor due to conflict of management with another Premiership club, Ankaragücü.
Fenerbahçe meanwhile are hosting Besiktas this weekend and a win in that game will definitely strengthen their push for the number one spot, and probably will be an end for Besiktas. Fenerbahce has away games at Kasimpasa, which is another Istanbul team so the game is not much of an "away" game, and one more in Ankara. They will host Eskisehirspor and Trabzonspor in their other games. Both not easy again but still in the final five weeks of the leauge one shall not complain.
Galatasaray, the January transfer market window's champion is having a difficult time. When they lost against Fenerbahçe on their home ground the team morale was almost destroyed. Then they drew against a relegation fighting Sivasspor by a conceded late goal. In their home game on last Sunday they faced heavy supporter protest despite the 4-1 win. They are trying to stay up and they still have chance at least as much as the rest of the contenders.
Besiktas' fate lays mainly upon this week's derby against Fenerbahce. If they manage to survive, they may keep up until their last week's Bursaspor away game. But since Bursaspor see them as the main reason for their relegation in 2004, the fierce rivalry between the two teams may turn things nasty in the last week of the season.
The three usual favorites of the Turkish league are trailing an underdog at the moment. This at least should teach those triplets a lesson upon how to spend money and build up a successful team. Even if Bursaspor wins the title or not, with the addition of example of Sivasspor from last two years, they should really contemplate what they have been doing wrong lately. They have all the support they need in any city that they travel to, the FA and officials of the games tend to blow in favor of them easier than the others, they have all the money and facilities, yet some underdogs are occupying the top spot until the end of season if not till the very end.
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