Fenerbahçe today will host Euroleague runner-up Real Madrid in a long-awaited rematch of the 2018 championship game in week 15 of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague.
The Spanish outfit snatched the victory in last season's final four by defeating Fenerbahçe 85-80. Fener, which suffers in its football department, shines in basketball with 13 wins and only one defeat in the Euroleague. The Spanish side had only one win less than Fenerbahçe.
The two teams enjoy one of the best records in the Euroleague. A win against Madrid will boost Fenerbahçe's place in the standings with more points, while the team already boasts a club-record 10-game winning streak. Real Madrid has won four in a row and the last three by a double-digit margin.
Fenerbahçe and Real Madrid have met 12 times since 2014 and half of those games have been either at the Final Four or in the Euroleague Playoffs. Fener had more wins, seven out of 12, but their last game against Madrid last season disappointed fans. The match in Istanbul also gives an opportunity for the Fener lineup to relive the excitement of past games, as 13 players who were part of Fener's playoff sweep in 2016, and 20 of the 24 players from last season's final, will join Fener for today's game.
Both teams rely on their shining players this season, Jan Vesely for Fener and Walter Tavares for Real Madrid. Tavares has an average 2.1 blocks per game, the best in the league in blocking shots, forcing opposing teams away from the baskets and to alter their game plans. Vesely pursues a more aggressive style. The center is also having the best season of his career with 15 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.4 steals.
Fenerbahçe has won 13 games in the opening 14 rounds and its defense is to blame with 75.5 points they allowed the rivals to score per game, the lowest in the league. In 14 games, only four times has a Fenerbahçe player scored 20 or more points, yet Fenerbahçe averages 84.9 points per game, which is fifth best in the Euroleague. With no player standing out, but everyone contributing, such depth and balance will be much-needed against Real Madrid, too.