Trabzon and Fener fight it out for the title

As we all know by now, Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce are locked in a battle for the Super Lig title.

Over the past few weeks (it’s been a while, I know) Fenerbahce have twice come back from the dead to keep their dream alive.

Two weeks ago Andre Santos was the hero with his 95th-minute winner that saw off a literally battling Gaziantepspor (10 players booked and one sent off). A week later they found themselves 3-1 down at Bucaspor before Alex De Souza’s double and Dani Guiza’s golden first touch put rest to any fears that they were about to bottle it.

Over in Trabzon, the former leaders will be kicking themselves after giving away top spot with a 0-0 draw at Eskisehirspor.

With Senol Gunes at the helm, Trabzon’s attacking football has been lighting up the league all season while a previously unseen resilience has brought them agonisingly close to their first title in 27 years.

Nerves may be starting to kick in however, with eight of their last 11 games being won by just a single-goal margin – not to mention that five of those were won in the last ten minutes.

Nonetheless, the reality now is that the Super Lig’s destination is in Fenerbahce’s hands. Their head-to-head advantage, having beaten Trabzon 2-0 in January, means that the Yellow Canaries will lift their 18th title if they win their next three games.

While the ‘will they, wont they’ debate continues, this blog is already looking to next season, and the two teams who could be potentially representing Turkey in next season's Champions League.

Logic would suggest that Fenerbahce are more prepared for a Champions League tussle. Bursaspor surprisingly won the title last season, and we all remember their disastrous European campaign. (You don't? One point from 18 and a -14 goal difference.)

The belief among the neutrals is that, should Trabzon enter the Champions League automatically, we could see another ‘Bursa disaster’ – something that nobody, least of all the Turkish FA, will have enjoyed.

Fenerbahce’s wealth is no secret and arguably key to their previous success in Europe. They have flirted with some of the world’s top players while acquiring the backbone of the Turkish national side. Trabzon on the other hand have a foreign contingent built up of players with very little, if any Champions League experience.

The other worry for Trabzonspor is that Istanbul is the Holy Grail for Turkish footballers. While their side may be challenging for the title this year, whether or not they will be able to hold on to the likes of Selcuk Inan, Giray and Egemen is another question yet to be answered – but with rumours of a pre-contract agreement already in place for Selcuk, it seems the answer will be no.

Here lies the problem. If you take out the Brazilian pair of Alanzinho and Jaja, the base of Trabzon’s side is based on young Turkish talent. All of whom are attracting attention from elsewhere.

Cashing in on those players would be one option, but would Trabzon be able to attract the required standard of player for Champions League football? Has Senol Gunes taken this side as far as they can go? And will this season's climax be the best of the past decade?

All will be answered very soon.

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