Battle for UEFA Europa League playoff spot goes down to the wire

Battle for UEFA Europa League playoff spot goes down to the wire

İstanbul BB stunned Sivasspor away at 4 Eylül Stadium on Saturday to throw the race for a spot in the playoffs wide open. (Photo: AA)

April 01, 2012, Sunday/ 16:49:00/ OKAN UDO BASSEY

The top four teams that will take part in the championship playoffs at the end of the regular season have been determined and they are: Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş.

And as is known, the teams that finish fifth to eighth will participate in a four-team playoffs for a berth in the UEFA Europa League next season; but that is far from decided yet and will go down to the wire this weekend.

Gençlerbirliği beat doomed Manisaspor 3-0 at 19 Mayıs Stadium on Saturday to put one foot in the playoffs. The Ankara side now has 49 points and will therefore still need at least an away draw against gritty İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor in the last match of the regular season should the four teams below it -- Sivasspor, Eskişehirspor, İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor and Bursaspor -- win their matches.

İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor beating Sivasspor 1-0 away on Saturday has thrown the race for the playoff berth wide open. İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor now has 47 points, the same as vanquish ed Sivasspor as well as Eskişehirspor, which drew 2-2 away with Kayserispor. Sivasspor would have earned a playoff spot had it won.

Bursaspor, the other prospective playoff candidate, was facing Antalyaspor on Sunday.

Gaziantepspor, which beat visiting relegated Ankaragücü 1-0 at Kamil Ocak Stadium, has 45 points and still a chance -- albeit a small one -- if it beats 2009-10 champion Bursaspor away this weekend and all the four teams above it lose. But that is a very tall order indeed.

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