Istanbul derby is fraught title showdown for Fenerbahce and Galatasaray

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With their president complaining of "an occult network" working against his club, Fenerbahce take on Galatasaray on Sunday in an Istanbul derby they must win to keep alive their hopes of a first Turkish title for a decade.

1 month ago
With two games to go, Fenerbahce, despite a record-breaking season, are six points behind their arch-rivals who will be playing in front of a passionate home crowd and need just one more point to clinch the title. "Mathematically, we're still in the race. We're going to win the two remaining games and we'll see what the result is at the end," said Ismail Kartal, coach of the "Canaries".
The end of the championship has a bitter taste for Fenerbahce, who have already equalled their best ever Super Lig points tally with 93 points. They have lost only once and led the table for much of the season but Galatasaray have won 17 straight games to surge past. The two teams drew 0-0 at Fenerbahce in December.
Veteran Bosnian Edin Dzeko has hit 20 goals for Fenerbahce, making him the second top scorer in the Super Lig - behind Argentina striker Mauro Icardi who has hit 23 for Galatasaray.
The two clubs have won the most Turkish titles. Fenerbahce, from the Asian side of the Bosphorus, can claim the most, at 28, but since the Super Lig started in 1959, Galatasaray lead: 23 to 19. The "Lions" have won four of those titles since Fenerbahce's last title in 2014. Fenerbahce have been runner up four times in that decade.
Their president, Ali Koc, says too many titles have "eluded" his club in a dubious manner. He has denounced "an occult network in Turkish soccer which decides the course of the championship via the referees". Koc threatened to withdraw his team from the Super Lig. In April, Fenerbahce sent their under-19 team to face Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Cup. The team walked off the field after three minutes.
"It is time for Turkish football to be reset," Koc told a press conference at the time. In an attempt to restore calm, the Turkish football federation has since appointed foreign video assistant referees for all high-stakes matches.
Koc is not convinced. "The federation has a strange relationship with Galatasaray," he said again at the beginning of May. The name of the foreign VAR official for the fiery Istanbul derby will only be announced a few hours before the match, scheduled for 19:00 (16:00 GMT) on Sunday.