As the curtain goes down on the first half of the Turkish Super League this week, the Big Three: Beşiktaş, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, get a last shot at boosting their morale before the second half. Although there is a difference in degree, there is no doubt the first half of this season has been one of the worst for them. None is in the first two spots and only Beşiktaş sits third, with that too based on goal difference.
If the trio does not want to let this picture continue, they need to make a stand this week. Given the rest of the league usually cannot handle the pressure as well as them in the second half, it is crucial for the Big Three to let others know that they are still in this race.
The first - and probably the most important - game of the week, is between Beşiktaş and Kasımpaşa. Both teams have 26 points, but the Black Eagles are third and Kasımpaşa sixth.
Considering there are five teams on 26 points and two more with 24, the losing side of this game can easily find themselves in the ninth position. It would be disastrous for both teams to fall 11 points behind league leaders Başakşehir if they win of course.
Kasımpaşa is the favorite for this match, simply because it has the most dangerous offensive trio in the league: Diagne, Trezeguet and Eduok, while Beşiktaş practically has no offensive power, with Quaresma and Jeremain Lens out of form and Ryan Babel out of the squad. Other than that, both teams play a similar brand of counterattacking football.
Another crucial game will be played between Sivasspor and Galatasaray. The former has transformed itself into a brand new team under its new coach and trails the Istanbul giants by only two points.
Sivasspor's resurgence saw the club beat Başakşehir - being one of only two teams able to do so this year - and Beşiktaş in Istanbul. The Black Sea club plays a pure counterattacking strategy backed by some solid defense.
Galatasaray, on the other hand, won its last game one month ago and could not even beat last placeholder Çaykur Rizespor in their last game in İstanbul. Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim and his crews are yet to find a way to open up solely defending opponents, like Sivasspor.
Last but not least, this week will be Fenerbahçe's last chance to recover any hope for the second half of the season. It will be playing a strong opponent, one of the five teams with 26 points - Antalyaspor.
With the appointment of Ersun Yanal, the Yellow Canaries have finally put a lid on the coaching issue. We can say that Yanal is going to be with the team at least until the end of the season.
Nevertheless, club Chairman Ali Koç and his administration will be desperately looking for a win to keep the fans quiet. Antalyaspor will be definitely aware of Fenerbahçe's tough situation. Interestingly, it has the means to punish a team that needs to win but does not know how.
Ersun Yanal has to win this one, so expect many goals with Antalyaspor as the slight favorites.