Turkish Football News

Will Basaksehir collapse or hold on to claim title?

Will Basaksehir collapse or hold on to claim title?

The league leaders are buckling under pressure at the worst time possible. Will they claim their first ever league title or will they squander their lead and throw it all away?

The clock is ticking for Istanbul Basaksehir as they lost 8 points in the last 3 games and the league title, which seemed sealed three weeks ago, seems to be slipping away.

The gap between them and their closest rival, Galatasaray, has narrowed to just 3 points, and it could have been only one had Galatasaray won against struggling Fenerbahce earlier this month.

At this point, the first question is obvious; what happened to Basaksehir? Nevertheless, the second one is more important; can they win the league? Many pundits in Turkey claim they can but only if they can handle the pressure.

The anxiety level at the club seems to be growing each week. Their record for the last 3 games are 2 losses and 1 draw. Their last game before the international break was against Kayserispor, a tough opponent, and although they found numerous opportunities they managed to score just once, leaving them with only one point as the game ended in a draw.

However, they have picked up just 4 points out of their last 4 games and more importantly, they have lost points against teams which they easily beat in the first half of the season.

Things have gone from bad to worse. The team, which conceded the least number of goals in the first half of the season, shipped away 5 goals in the last 4 outings.

Avci watches as his team lose 2-0 to Goztepe on Friday, April 26.

This number may not seem high at first glance but Basaksehir is not the type of team that scores more than they concede. Their defense is their strongest part of their game. The team which conceded only 12 goals in 25 games suddenly became an easy target for opposition teams.

The first and foremost parameter that changed in the last 4 weeks is the absence of their central defender Alexandru Epureanu, who has been out with injury for more than a month. The Istanbul club conceded 6 goals without Epureanu and his importance became obvious as the team kept conceding without him.

It seems that it was Epureanu, just like Pepe for Besiktas last year, who kept his teammates in check, making sure that no one slips up. His replacement, Joseph Attamah, made lots of mistakes and directly cost his team 2 goals against Fenerbahce and Rizespor.

Therefore, it is crucial for Basaksehir that head coach Avci finds a way to strengthen the core of his defense in the absence of Epureanu.

The other and equally crucial issue is that due to Basaksehir’s low popularity in Turkey, the team is not used to “high-stress” football. Until the end of the season, it was able to play football and win games consecutively without being noticed, but as they became the favourites to win the title, they have increasingly come under the spotlight.

Their unusual performances in the past four weeks is likely due to inexperience in the title race, despite the fact that they have experienced players who have played for big teams abroad.

It is now a matter of showing character on the pitch, playing football in the face of pressure and getting three points no matter what. The time has come for Avci to prove his leadership skills if Istanbul Basaksehir truly want to be crowned the champions of Turkish football come the end of the season.

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