Right Field

Süper Lig Suspense

I may be only a casual fan of the English Premier League, but at least have an opportunity to watch a match on either ESPN2 or Fox Soccer Channel nearly every weekend. Without the cable TV access, following Turkey’s Spor Toto Süper Lig is significantly more challenging. That’s a shame, because the Süper Lig is expecting a fantastic finish.

Last season, Bursaspor became only the second club not based in Istanbul to win a championship since league play commenced in 1959. With only three matches remaining in the current campaign, the other title holder, Trabzonspor (22 wins, 7 draws, and 2 losses), is in a dead heat with one of the three Istanbul powerhouses, Fenerbahçe (23-4-4). Both teams have 73 points going into their games today.

Before last weekend’s matches were played, which both clubs won handily, I asked a Turkish football insider what to expect as the season draws to a close.

The side that blinks will lose. Last week’s draw by Trabzonspor gave Fenerbahçe the edge as Fener has a one-goal tie-breaker advantage (4 to 3) in head-to-head play. On paper, both teams should win all four games, but as we all know pressure can make a side slip sometimes. Fenerbahçe had two miraculous finishes in the last two matches, winning 1-0 in extra time against Gaziantepspor and managing a 5-3 comeback away win from 1-3 in the last half hour of play against the about-to-relegated last weekend. … Most teams seem to be playing soft against Trabzonspor, but at this point no one can know what will happen. The team with the stronger nerves will reach the title. Fenerbahçe has tallied 13 victories and a tie in the last 14 games, pulling even with Trabzonspor after finishing the first half of the season 9 points behind.

Trabzonspor is at home today against Bucaspor (6-7-18) while Fenerbahçe hosts Karabukspor (11-8-12). Both matches start at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

EDIT: Both clubs were actually on the road today and each came out a winner: Trabzonspor defeated Bucaspor, 2-1; Fenerbahçe shut out Karabukspor, 1-0.

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


The Latest