Competition is the reason why we love football, the sine qua non of this beautiful game. If one side keeps winning, we lose interest because no one wants to watch a game or a league where the result is already determined. Not even the most radical idealist, who see perfection in an always winning strategy, can maintain his ideals without any opposition. The irony of football is that being flawless is simply bad, it kills the meaning of the game which is the reason why we play football in the first place. In an era where the gap between super-rich clubs and others are widening, competitive spirit is perhaps the most important asset a league can have, and Turkish Süper Lig is by far the most competitive league in Europe right now.
Istanbul Başakşehir leads the league with 59 points followed by Trabzonspor with 57 points, Sivasspor with 53 points and Galatasaray with 51 points. Apart from the Belarussian Premier League, which is still in the middle of its season, there is no league in Europe other than Süper Lig where four teams are in the championship race. After them come other big guns of the league like Beşiktaş and Alanyaspor, chasing the last potential Europa League spot. Combined with the bottom of the league where eight teams try to stay out of relegation zone, almost all teams in Süper Lig has entered the last eight weeks of the season with a clear goal. Thus, the first two weeks after the break was full of surprises, comebacks, red cards and most importantly, tight competition.
Galatasaray, for many the favorites of the championship race, lost shockingly against Çaykur Rizespor in the relegation zone and then lost two points in a home game against Gaziantep FK. Fenerbahçe made an unbelievable comeback with ten men in the final minutes against Kayserispor but then lost to Kasımpaşa. Beşiktaş lost unexpectedly against Antalyaspor at their home then beat Denizlispor with 5 goals and Sivasspor managed to get a 1-0 win against Denizlispor just three points above the relegation zone but could not beat Konyaspor.
The following weeks will be even more intense, especially for the championship race, as Galatasaray will play against İstanbul Başakşehir and Trabzonspor in a row. The fate of the league will be determined probably in those two games, as the team which gets the most will also get a huge morale boost.
Still, all four teams in the championship race have their unique strengths which make the following weeks even more interesting. Trabzonspor still leads the league thanks to the phenomenal performance of their striker, Alexander Sörloth, who scored 27 goals in 42 games this season. İstanbul Başakşehir, the team which has almost no fans, has the best chance it has ever had as they are the most experienced team to play with no fans. Sivasspor has the easiest schedule compared to its rivals, and the expectations from them are lower than other teams which puts less stress on the team. Finally, Galatasaray, even though losing their great goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to a tragic injury, still has the most experienced manager in the league, Fatih Terim. Trabzonspor and Başakşehir might seem to have the upper hand, but it is still too early to talk decisively.
On the other hand, even though the quality of the games suffer from the lack of pre-season camps and fans, Turkish Süper Lig still has that nostalgic competitive spirit unlike the big leagues of Europe, where strongest teams always dominate others. Added to that, since teams rely more on individual talent to compensate their physical and tactical deficiencies, there is always room for surprise in the top level of Turkish football. Despite the worsening financial status and poor administrative practices, football in Turkey still has a great potential as it has the most important element in football, competition.