Finding its pace after making a lackluster start to the season, Beşiktaş has been slowly but steadily making a march toward the top of the Süper Lig table and the Istanbul club hopes to extend its winning streak as it takes on leader Alanyaspor this weekend.
Following a run of bad luck with numerous injuries and coronavirus infections, the worst seems to be over for Beşiktaş, as the Istanbul powerhouse has managed to win five of its last six matches.
Just a month ago, coach Sergen Yalçın’s future at the club was on shaky ground as pundits and fans questioned the team’s unstable performance.
But since then, Yalçın’s men have gone on to defeat defending champions Başakşehir 3-2 at home and pulled off an impressive feat the next week, defeating Fenerbahçe 4-3 away that ended a 15-year win drought for Beşiktaş at the Şükrü Saraçoğlu stadium.
Moving to the fourth place from the middle of the table in less than a month, Yalçın and his men now face yet another test that could land them among the top three.
While Alanyaspor remains unbeaten at home, just Yalçın’s luck, the Mediterranean side had its first defeat of the season at Gençlerbirliği last week, when they lost 2-1 at the capital Ankara.
Before Alanyaspor could chalk off the defeat as a fluke, it was further pounded by Göztepe with a 1-0 defeat on Wednesday for a rescheduled match that was initially set to be played back in October but was postponed due to the deadly earthquake that devasted Göztepe’s hometown Izmir.
With back-to-back defeats loosening Alanyaspor’s grip on the leadership, Beşiktaş could drive the final nail in the coffin that could unseat the Mediterranean side from the top.
Yalçın will have his regular squad at his disposal on Sunday as almost all of his players have healed from their injuries or have since recovered from COVID-19. In any case, history is on Beşiktaş’s side.
A look back at the previous meetings between the two sides shows Alanyaspor has never managed a defeat, with Beşiktaş being the dominating side with seven wins in eight matches.
As Beşiktaş and Alanyaspor try to best each other, Fenerbahçe will be looking for a shot to steal the leadership.
Istanbul giants Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray are tied with Alanyaspor at 23 points, and with the Lions skipping this weekend due to the odd number of teams in the league, the top will be ripe for the taking for the Yellow Canaries.
And coach Erol Bulut’s men will try just that when they host Yeni Malatyaspor on Saturday.
Trabzonspor’s road to recovery
Elsewhere on matchday, a recovering Trabzonspor will visit Kayserispor on Saturday.
Since parting ways with coach Eddie Newton and bringing on board Abdullah Avcı, Trabzonspor has been on a path to recovery.
The Black Sea side tasted its first victory of the season as soon as Avcı’s arrival and appeared to have turned things around with another win the following week, against the capital side Ankaragücü.
However, Trabzonspor’s rehabilitation was interrupted after Avcı’s men were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Sivasspor last weekend.
Lifting Trabzonspor from the relegation zone toward the middle of the table, Avcı’s chances of resuming the healing process with a win at Ankaragücü seem highly likely as the capital side hasn’t been able to win a single match yet.
Champion Başakşehir, meanwhile, will host Gaziantep on Sunday.
Knocked out of the Champions League and way behind in the title race with 15 points, Başakşehir will need to defeat the visitors if they are to catch up with the pack.
But it won’t be an easy feat to pull off for coach Okan Buruk’s side as Gaziantep is yet to taste a defeat in 10 matches.