Leaders Fenerbahçe SK could be the big winners when Besiktas JK play host to Istanbul rivals Galatasaray SK in the first big Süper Lig derby of 2007.
Fenerbahçe SK could be the big winners as Beşiktaş JK play Galatasaray SK in the first big Turkish derby of 2007.
With Zico's side six points above second-placed Galatasaray and a further two clear of Beşiktaş, they will be in a no-lose situation as they watch Saturday's game ahead of a meeting with Sivasspor on Sunday.
While Galatasaray and Beşiktaş still harbour hopes of the title, second position – and a UEFA Champions League qualifying slot – looks the more sensible target, but as with all Istanbul derbies, the match at the Inönü Stadium will be a matter of honour for both sides. Turkey's top three have come in for criticism in what many have considered a lacklustre season. Beşkitaş coach Jean Tigana and Galatasaray counterpart Erik Gerets have been the focus of discontent, with Zico also far from immune.
Beşiktaş are on a miserable run, having lost their last two league fixtures at Konyaspor and Trabzonspor before succumbing 2-0 in this week's Turkish Cup quarter-final second leg at Vestel Manisaspor – a result only mitigated by their 4-0 win in the home leg. Tigana hopes the rot will stop against Galatasaray. "We have been completely inconsistent of late," he said. "Now we have a crucial derby which surely will get us going. We want to win it and keep chasing our goals."
Motivation has seemed lacking at Galatasaray too. A reverse at Gaziantepspor and 1-1 home draw with Denizlispor were the prelude to the 1-1 home result against Kayseri Erciyesspor which saw them eliminated from the Turkish Cup on away goals. Some feel Gerets's team are running on empty, counting down time until the end of the campaign, and certainly they are struggling with playmaker Arda Turan short on form. However, with Ümit Karan having scored 12 goals in 17 games this term, they remain dangerous opponents
Moreover, veteran striker Hakan Sükür is one goal away from becoming Galatasaray's all-time top scorer, while an almost unimaginable hat-trick would make the 35-year-old the leading marksman in Süper Lig history. The absence of Beşiktaş's defensive linchpin Gökhan Zan through injury is another potential bonus for the visitors. Yet the return of Márcio Nobre from his lay-off and the attacking threat of Brazilian compatriot Bôbo should at least give Gerets's team plenty to think about.