Baba Preview: Istanbul Derby

Istanbul have seen some great moments in its history. Throughout the years, empires aroused and fell in the city that connect between east and west, cultures collided and battles were hard fought. Yet, nothing has prepared the city to the biggest battle that it knew for years.

Nowadays, four sides are fighting head to head for the Turkish title. The race for the Turkish Süper Lig was never tight as it is today.

 Istanbul, full of history and close race for the title (R. Otaviano)

Istanbul, full of history and close race for the title (R. Otaviano)

Besides the league's two leaders, Başakşehir and Galatasaray, two other clubs know that losing their next match could make their season much more difficult. That is the case of the match between Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe. Except from a prestigious win, in a league that only 5 points separates between the 1st and the 4th, any point matters.

Beşiktaş are the hosts of this derby and all they want is just to maintain their record of 37 consecutive league home games without a single defeat. The Turkish champions in the past two seasons are currently 4th, and are still dreaming about theןר 3rd title in a row.

Unfortunately for them, Beşiktaş are not the same team as they were at the last two seasons. Their superstar Cenk Tosun has left to Everton and the current squad is a bit struggling without him. They arrive this match after the 0:5 defeat against Bayern Munich at the Champions League, something that may have its impact on the players.

 Beşiktaş, who can stop them? (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Beşiktaş, who can stop them? (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

From the Asian side of the city, Fenerbahçe are much closer to the league's top spot. Don't let the 3rd place confuse you, because the Canaries are just 2 points behind the 1st place. Fenerbahçe also has a great run in the league – they didn't lost in their last 15 matches and they are the team with the fewest numbers of losses - only two.

Both teams have long list of decisive matches. The last time that Fenerbahçe arrived to the Vodafone Arena was a dramatic one. Beşiktaş led 1:0 thanks to a goal from Vincent Aboubaker and they felt that they are getting closer to a 5 points lead from Başakşehir. At the 94th minute, Fenerbahçe managed to equalize by an own goal of Marcelo. There is nothing that could describe the feeling better than the commentators in both teams channels.

In Istanbul as in Istanbul the political context is imminent. 

Besiktas is well connected to the neighborhood it come from (by the same name).  A middle class neighborhood in the European side of the city.
The club fans, and its ultras – Carsi - has a very specific political orientation – left and far left. The Carsi are very involved in the political discussion of Turkey, and was a target by the authorities for many years, as they identified with LGBT right, environment activism, and has the famous Anarchy ‘A’  in their logo.

Fener is counted as the 'team of the people'. Kadikoy, Fener’s district, is traditionally a center-left stronghold both in municipal and national elections. Though the fans are quite patriot, and among their famous supporters you can find Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as Mustafa Kemal Ata Turk. As a club with millions of fans, it has both right wing and left wing ultras group.  

With great passion, a lot of pressure, Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe are ready to produce  another massive show for their fans. Just pick your side.