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Turkey bows to Besiktas

Published: Tuesday 30 December 2003, 21.55CET
Winter review: Turkish champions Besiktas JK have good reason to feel relaxed during the winter break.

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Published: Tuesday 30 December 2003, 21.55CET

Turkey bows to Besiktas

Winter review: Turkish champions Besiktas JK have good reason to feel relaxed during the winter break.

Reigning Turkish champions Besiktas JK have good reason to feel relaxed during this season's winter break. At the halfway point in the Turkish season, they hold a nine-point lead at the top of the table and have emerged from their autumn campaign undefeated.

Runaway leaders
Few could deny that Mircea Lucescu's side are still playing the best team football in Turkey, and while their UEFA Champions League ambitions may have been thwarted, they will go into the spring season with the prospect of UEFA Cup football and what could yet be a glorious procession to the title.

Fenerbahçe credentials
The most realistic challengers for the crown would seem to be Christoph Daum's Fenerbahçe SK. With a game in hand on Besiktas - a tie against Çaykur Rizespor on 18 January -third-placed Fenerbahçe can cut Lucescu's side's lead to eight points. Their prospects will depend upon the form of striking partners Pierre van Hooijdonk and Tuncay Sanli, who have scored 24 of their 36 goals so far.

Galatasaray gloom
With a few additions to their squad, Fenerbahçe will be itching for action over the winter break, but the same cannot be said of Galatasaray SK who have endured a disappointing first half to their campaign that has left them fifth in the table - already 14 points adrift of their Istanbul rivals Besiktas.

Leaky defence
Coach Fatih Terim is coming in for criticism from the club's supporters who are accustomed to seeing much better results, and their disappointing Champions League campaign has done little to paper over the cracks in a leaky defence. However, success in the UEFA Cup in the spring could yet ease their worries.

Surprise packages
Second-placed Trabzonspor and sixth-placed Malatyaspor were the surprise packages of the first half of the season but with the coaches of both clubs surprisingly resigning at the start of the winter break, their futures seem uncertain, as is that of Istanbulspor AS, who topped the league for three weeks at the start of the season before slumping to eleventh place.

Hope for Elazigspor
At the bottom Elazigspor, Adanaspor AS and Bursaspor will be battling against relegation in the spring. Elazigspor have changed coach twice already this season, but Güvenç Kurtar's arrival - and a 2-2 draw with Galatasaray in their last game before the winter break - has given them hope for the future.

Adanaspor troubled
Cash-strapped Adanaspor still look troubled having conceded the most defeats of all of the teams in the league in the first half of their campaign - 12 - while third-from-bottom Bursaspor are still coming to terms with the departure of coach Gheorghe Hagi.

Home record
The former Romanian international resigned in mid-November and his old side have not won a league game since. Still without an away victory in the league, Bursaspor need to make better use of their home form. They remain unbeaten at the Atatürk stadium, although they have only won twice.

Last updated: 30/12/03 16.57CET

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