Denizli’s Lions head to Kasımpasa for first match

The stakes are high as disgruntled fans seek all out redemption for the Lions.

Meanwhile, Spor Toto Super League leader Besiktas looks to punish high-flying small club Akhisar Belediyespor at home to keep ahead of hungry runner-up Fenerbahce. The match kicks off at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Kasımpasa-Galatasaray starts at 8:15 p.m.

The other Sunday fixture is Genclerbirligi-Gaziantepspor at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Eskisehirspor hosts Mersin İdman Yurdu at 7 p.m. and Sivasspor hosts İstanbul Basaksehir at 4 p.m.

Tough luck Lions

Galatasaray has had a tough two weeks. They were knocked out of the Champions League after losing 2-0 to Atletico Madrid. Hamza Hamzaoglu had parted ways with the club the week before, leaving the Lions with goalkeeping coach Claudio Taffarel and a fair dose of uncertainty about the future in the interim.

Mustafa Denizli made his way back to the club after a 23-year absence, and everyone is eager to see if he has the ability as the first and still only man to lead all three big clubs to a Super League title. If he can turn Galatasaray around — the club is in third place but slumped to a 3-3 domestic result recently — then there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind.

Kasımpasa’s Rıza Calımbay reportedly said his club is “sad to have to play against Mustafa Denizli” because of his reputation. But in a respectable sixth place, Kasımpasa has no reason to think they cannot upset the Lions at home. After all, legend or not, Denizli has had very little time to settle into his new role.

As for Denizli, he told the press that Galatasaray was the one club he would risk his good name for. But he must have some hope that this will be another success rather than a blot on his record. His fans and the fans of the Lions certainly want this to be the case from Sunday.

Flying Eagles

The Black Eagles’ spirits are soaring after defeating Skenderbeu to propel themselves to the top spot of their Europa League group, even if their advancement is not yet assured.

Ricardo Quaresma has put on a good show as of late, tirelessly working the wings to provide attacking opportunities for the likes of Cenk Tosun, who scored both Europa goals on Thursday. Quaresma had come off the bench to assist the second.

Add to that on-form Oguzhan Ozyakup and German striker Mario Gomez, one of the league’s top scorers, and you have a force to be reckoned with. The danger of the fixture is not lost on Akhisar, which is still a small club despite being in fifth place and pummeling Bursaspor 3-1 last weekend.

Senol Gunes has been rotating players in an attempt to keep them all healthy. His methods were questioned before the Skenderbeu match when he left Gomez on the bench, but the doubts were unfounded, and Gomez should be well rested for the weekend.

Gunes’s main concerns stem from injury, and Besiktas always seems to have several. “[Jose] Sosa has a small complaint; I did not want to risk him. I think he will be better by tomorrow. Ersan took a hit in the Medicana Sivasspor match and was hurt again [against Skenderbeu],” he said.

Besiktas has a habit of slipping up. This tendency has lost the Eagles several championships where they had been leading the league all season. The fact is Besiktas has not won since Mustafa Denizli coached them in 2009. With Denizli at rival Galatasaray now, Gunes’s Eagles are eager to show that they can clinch a title even without him.


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