The Süper Lig has now entered an unprecedented 21-day international break and it feels like the rest of the league will be in something like the NBA playoffs.
It has been only 45 days since the second half of the league started, but now the teams have another 21 days to prepare for the last seven weeks of the season. Nevertheless, this week could have already been decisive in the championship race despite the long break. As Başakşehir lost two crucial points in a 1-1 draw with Kayseri and Galatasaray made a dramatic comeback from 2-0 down to 3-2 in Bursa. The gap between the top two is now only six points. If the results had been in the reverse order, it would increase the gap to 11 points, practically finishing the race.
Although these results seem like ordinary ones, those who watched these games know it is almost a miracle that Başakşehir could not win and Galatasaray managed a comeback. If we start with the former, statistics alone give a clear picture of how the game was. Başakşehir made 34 attempts on goal with 10 clear, one-on-one opportunities, but managed to score only once.
Kayserispor also missed many opportunities, as it found at least five clear chances from counterattacks. Thus, the game that could have been a 5-3 victory for Başakşehir turned out to be a 1-1 draw. Edin Visca, Robinho, Arda Turan and all other forwards of Başakşehir missed several opportunities as if they forgot how to score.
Galatasaray, on the other hand, were completely outplayed by Bursaspor, a team which is only one point above the relegation zone. As the first half of the game was ending with a two-goal Bursaspor lead, Galatasaray scored a penalty just before the whistle and seized the momentum. In the second half, Bursaspor players clearly struggled to handle the pressure and made lots of individual mistakes although they were still in control of the game. With Sofiane Feghouli's talented playmaking, Galatasaray managed to score two more in the second half, getting the crucial three points.
Now the question is, can Galatasaray achieve the mental upper hand in the championship race? As these two games showed, Başakşehir still plays overall a better game than Galatasaray. Nevertheless, little details affect the results more than anywhere in Turkish football. The reason why Başakşehir coach Abdullah Avcı wanted Robinho was clear; he saw the danger of pressure and its effects on the results, so he wanted an experienced striker to finish the job. However, its panicked display in Kayseri must be a warning sign; it may still fail under the intensity of the last seven weeks.
Galatasaray and Fatih Terim, of course, are much more experienced in the last stages of the league and they will be less affected by this issue. Therefore, if Başakşehir keeps panicking in the following weeks, Galatasaray's comeback this week may prove decisive.