In a bid to stay in the race for the Super Lig title, Galatasaray is set to face Sivasspor on Thursday evening. Currently, Galatasaray and their long-standing rivals Fenerbahce have established a 14-point lead over their closest competitor in the Turkish top flight, while Sivasspor sits comfortably in mid-table.
After a goalless draw in the intercontinental derby against Fenerbahce just before Christmas, Galatasaray had the opportunity to compete for the Super Kupa against their cross-city rivals in Saudi Arabia.
However, due to a diplomatic incident, the match was called off at the last minute. Gala returned home and focused on their Sunday game against struggling Super Lig team Konyaspor.
Despite dominating possession and shot counts, it took Galatasaray over an hour to break through their opponent’s defense in the game against Konyaspor.
Central defender Abdulkerim Bardakci opened the scoring, and late goals from Wilfried Zaha and Bardakci secured a 3-0 victory.
With this win, Galatasaray remains level on points with Fenerbahce, both accumulating 47 points from just 18 games. It is evident that these two Istanbul giants will be locked in a battle for the top spot throughout the season.
Galatasaray’s solid defensive record, having conceded only one goal in their last six matches since the thrilling 3-3 draw with Manchester United in the Champions League, has been their strongest asset.
Consequently, their upcoming opponents, Sivasspor, who are the lowest-scoring team in the top half of the Super Lig table, should not pose a significant threat to the Lions.
Sivasspor failed to secure any points from their league fixtures against Galatasaray last season and have won only once in their last ten away matches at the Ali Sami Yen stadium.
However, as hosts, they have won three out of their last six meetings against Galatasaray, and they will be hoping to cause an upset on Thursday.
Bulent Uygun’s Sivasspor has had an inconsistent season, never comfortably escaping the relegation zone.
However, recent victories over Istanbulspor and high-flying Kayserispor have propelled them to 10th place in the standings. Notably, Sivasspor has excelled in away matches, winning half of their games on the road compared to just one victory at home.
Their struggle to score goals has resulted in several draws, giving them the third-lowest points total for home teams this season.
Sivasspor: D, L, W, L, W, W
Galatasaray: W, W, W, W, D, W
Galatasaray will be without star striker Mauro Icardi due to a facial fracture sustained during the Istanbul derby.
Sergio Oliviera is also sidelined with a muscular injury, while Baris Alper Yilmaz is suspended due to yellow-card accumulation.
Hakim Ziyech and Cedric Bakambu have left to represent Morocco and DR Congo, respectively, in the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, Wilfried Zaha will be available for Galatasaray as he was not called up by the Ivory Coast national team.
Lucas Torreira and Sacha Boey will return from suspension, and Colombian center-back Davinson Sanchez is fit and could feature on the bench.
Sivasspor will be missing Ahmed Musa and Clinton N’Jie due to international duty at the AFCON.
Additionally, Rey Manaj, who has been in fine form, will serve a one-match ban. Modou Barrow or Bengali-Fode Koita are likely to fill in the center-forward role for Sivasspor.
Okumus, Osmanpasa, Camara, Ciftci;
Gokay, Saiz, Barrow;
Boey, Nelsson, Bardakci, Karatas;
Zaha, Mertens, Akturkoglu;
Considering Galatasaray’s relentless pursuit of points, they are expected to defeat Sivasspor, who struggle to produce results at home. Despite a few absentees, Galatasaray’s star-studded squad is simply too strong.
- OurPrediction: Sivasspor 1-3 Galatasaray