But the problem is that they have a tough hurdle to clear as they face their old nemesis Eskişehirspor, a team they can hardly ever beat, away in their week 24 encounter at the Atatürk Stadium this evening.
Victory is contagious, in other words victory begets victory, and so Riza Çalımbay’s Eskişehirspor beat the Lions at home and away last season and their league match in the season’s first half ended in a 1-1 draw.
Eskişehirspor, popularly known as EsEs, thinks it will beat Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard and his Lions hands down again today and send them back to İstanbul empty-handed. And the club’s deputy chairman, Mesut Hoşcan, is already gloating despite the fact that EsEs will be missing the services of midfielder Bülent Ertuğrul due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
“We are going to welcome Galatasaray and its fans in the best possible way. Under the principles of fair play and friendship, may the better team win -- but that’s all there is to it,” he said.
“However, Eskişehirspor, the city and the fans want nothing other than victory over Galatasaray [this evening]. And we have unyielding faith in our technical staff and players and are therefore assured that they have the strength and potential to accomplish this feat,” he gloated.
Rijkaard to talk on the pitch
Galatasaray Dutch coach Rijkaard prefers to do the talking on the pitch and knows quite well that “he who laughs last laughs loudest.” The Dutchman is one of the happiest men in the land because the injured on his team are healing fast. A few weeks ago he could hardly form a team; now he is confused as to which players to select.
Czech striker Milan Baroş, who broke his foot in the week 10 “mother of all derbies” against Fenerbahçe, is back and trained with the team all week long. Aussie winger Harry Kewell also seems fit after being sidelined for several months due to injury.
Moreover, young Mexican striker Giovani Dos Santos is back with the team after fulfilling his national assignment in the friendly against New Zealand at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California on March 3.
With an abundance of strikers and the superb form of captain-playmaker Arda Turan, Rijkaard and his Lions are confident they can bring an abrupt end to the EsEs hoodoo at the Atatürk Stadium this evening.
Kickoff is at 8 p.m., and the referee will be Bülent Yıldırım. His assistants will be Erhan Sönmez and Muharrem Yılmaz and the fourth official will be Mustafa İlker Coşkun.
Storm sweeps Gençler aside
In Super League matches on Saturday, the Trabzonspor Black Sea Storm ended a string of draws, which had earned it the tag “draw specialist,” by scoring two last-gasp goals to beat visiting Gençlerbirliği 3-1 at the Hüseyin Avni Aker Stadium.
The match was tied 1-1 with only one minute left in regulation time, in the 89th to be more precise, when Serbian leftie Gabric scored to put the Storm up 2-1 and prolific striker Umut Bulut found the back of the net in the second minute of injury time (92nd) to seal the score: Trabzonspor 3, Gençlerbirliği 1.
Elsewhere, İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor sent struggling Sivasspor further down the league abyss with a 1-0 away at the 4 Eylül Stadium, while Kasımpaşa and Kayserispor shared the spoils after a 2-2 draw at the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Stadium in İstanbul.