Can Başakşehir win the double?


After years of hard work and dedication, the Başakşehirspor project has finally come to a point where the team is just inches away from winning both Turkish Super League title and the Turkish Cup. While their "Istanbulite" opponents, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray were both eliminated from the Turkish Cup and already dropped from the championship race, Başakşehirspor continues to chase Beşiktaş, who might have thought that winning the title this season would be as easy as snatching a candy from a baby's hand. With their brilliant financial form, stable performance and collective game, if Başakşehir do win the double, it would be a great message for Turkish football.

However, as it appears, the breaking point in the Turkish League arrived has arrived for Başakşehirspor. Though they got rid of Fenerbahçe in Turkish Cup semifinals Wednesday, in a penalty shoot-out, the team looked exhausted after 120 minutes of struggle. Now, they will visit one of the most dangerous teams in the second half of the season, Trabzonspor.

The reason why Trabzonspor are particularly a dangerous opponent for Başakşehirspor is firstly the city is craving for a big victory with their great spell in the second half. Secondly, with their coach Ersun Yanal's future in balance and just three weeks left to go, he will definitely want to win this game. But the most important of all, Yanal's strategy that brought Trabzonspor up to the fifth spot from the bottom of the table is based on transition game and fast, direct counter-attacks, which resemble Başakşehirspor's strategy a lot. Given Başakşehirspor usually performs better against dominant, offensive opponents, if they cannot score a goal early in the game, Trabzon might eventually give them a taste of their own medicine.

At the end of the day, I would say everything is almost square between Beşiktaş and Başakşehirspor. Both will face mediocre teams of Turkish League and the better one will get the trophy. But, if Başakşehirspor drop even two points in the Trabzon game, it will probably be too late for them to catch Beşiktaş by the tail.

On the other hand, the Turkish Cup Finale will be played between Başakşehirspor and Konyaspor, managed by two respectable coaches Abdullah Avcı and Aykut Kocaman. The reason why I respect them a lot is that despite their low budgets and with so-called "low quality" players, they managed to achieve great successes.

Both teams play a collective game based on set-pieces rather than individual talent, and that is why they always pose a serious threat to all teams in Turkey. Konyaspor might have lost some of their performance qualities from last year, considering they finished third last year but find themselves in the 10th position this season.

Nevertheless, with their footballing structure and philosophy, both somehow managed to get to the Cup Final. I know that Başakşehirspor coach Abdullah Avcı would not underestimate their opponent, but still, he should keep in mind that Konyaspor and Aykut Kocaman can always pull something out of the hat.

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