World Football: Tight Turkish title-decider forecast for Sunday

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WORLD football fanatic James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) looks to continue his fabulous form with a selection of hand-picked best bets from across the planet on Sunday.

Hajduk Split v Istra | Sunday 19th May 2019, 15:30

Baring something spectacular, Hajduk Split will be in the Europa League qualifiers in a few months’ time. Officially, they do need a point to make sure that is the case. They’ll however be hoping for more this weekend as they entertain an Istra side who will be participating in the end of season relegation play-offs.

Hajduk want maximum points as they’re chasing down second or third spot, as the higher you finish, that means you enter the Europa League qualifiers at a slightly later round. Dinamo Zagreb coasted towards the title some weeks ago now, but second, third and fourth are very much up for grabs. This is the penultimate matchday of the regular season.

Istra are a side that aren’t ever really going to hit too many highs playing at this level. They’ve been in the top-flight of Croatian football for the past nine seasons, with their highest finish being sixth. Considering this is only a 10-team division, that’s nothing to write home about.

Istra have ultimately had another very disappointing campaign, and they will finish in the same spot as they did last season. They overcome Varaždin in the relegation play-offs last season, so they’ll be very much aiming for a repeat. It remains to be seen if they’ll rest players over the next few games in preparation for bigger things to come. Still, they’ll want to avoid a heavy lost here, although that could be wishful thinking.

Reasons for it being wishful thinking is that although Istra are second from bottom, they are bottom of the form guide table over the past 15 matches, winning just one of those. They’ve only won five out of their 34 clashes so far, two of which were versus bottom side Rudes.

Hajduk finished third last season, ending only seven points behind eventual winners Dinamo Zagreb. They’ve not reached those standards this time around, but they could still ultimately secure the same prize at the end. Their recent form is pretty decent, losing only twice in 16 since the league returned following the winter break. They’ve won 11 of those meetings, so they’re in good shape.

This has been a game that Hajduk Split has ultimately dominated for a long time now. The last nine has seen them come out on top. October 2016 was the last time Istra got anything, when earning a 0-0 home draw at the time. July 2015 was the last time they won, and they’ve not won in Split since May 2014.

Istra’s last three games has seen them lost 7-0, 4-1 and 1-0. Those heavy defeats were versus teams situated in second and fifth, but the 1-0 home loss to Zapresic was to a team only just above them in the standings and was an extremely poor, poor score. Hajduk have won three on the spin, including to the two teams situated either side of Istra in the table.

I think I’ve made a pretty good case for Hajduk Split coming out on top in this one, but they’re unsurprisingly very skinny odds to claim the three points outright. Additional value has been located however, in the form of Hajduk Split to win ‘to nil’ at 10/11 (Bet365).

Istra has failed to score in five of their last seven visits to this stadium, with Hajduk Split scoring 27 in their last eight at home against this poor opposition. Hajduk also have a pretty handy 41% clean sheet record in the league at home, also keeping six clean sheets in their last ten in the league overall.

Galatasaray v Istanbul Basaksehir | Sunday 19th May 2019, 17:00

We’ve got a pretty big game going on in Turkey on Sunday. There is only one game to go after this weekend, and the league title could very well be decided. It is essentially winner takes all, as top of the table as Galatasaray entertain Basaksehir, with both teams on 66 points.

A draw would take this to the final day, and Besiktas could still potentially spoil the party if they were to win both their remaining matches, with them on 62 points.

Besiktas are hoping this ends in a draw, and the earlier season meeting between the two went that way. As that was the case, it does mean if either team were to win this game then they would be the champions. That is because head-to-head records are the decided factor if both finish on level points, and not goal difference. Whoever wins here therefore would have taken four points over the other. This is a seriously big game!

Basaksehir did hold a very comfortable lead at the summit only a matter of games ago, but they’ve certainly opened the door for Galatasaray in a big way through a poor run of results. They may have defeated Ankaragucu last time out, but that was only their second victory in their previous seven league assignments.

Galatasaray actually haven’t lost a league game since all the way back in December, so they’ve been steady for a while now. To have home advantage for this game could be the deciding factor, as they’ve failed to lose at home all season. On the flip side, Basaksehir have the strongest away record to provide yet more meat on the bone for this one.

There is no doubt the pressure has got to Basaksehir in recent times. They’ve never won the top league in Turkey, with a runners-up finish in the 2016/17 season being the best they’ve got. Although they possess an experienced squad containing the likes of Robinho, Emre, Gael Clichy, Demba Ba, Emmanuel Adebayor and Gokhan Inler to name but a few, they’ve still looked more than twitchy in recent times.

Basaksehir boss Abdullah Avcı dropped several of his regular starters on the back of their poor form last time out, so it remains to be seen if they're all recalled for this mammoth match.

Something which will afford some hope to Basaksehir is that they have won four of the last six meetings with Galatasaray. Something else to consider is that Galatasaray did have the Turkish Cup final to negotiate during the week, where they had to come from 1-0 down to score three late goals in beating bottom side Akhisarspor.

Basaksehir had their feet up watching at that point, plus their big guns have been rested for a few weeks now. Little things like that may give Basaksehir a big edge, although Galatasaray certainly have real momentum.

This will be a rather tense affair considering what is on the line and I certainly don’t see this one containing many goals. The last two meetings contained exactly two goals, plus Basaksehir are very, very strong defensively. This has contributed to their league games having an average of only 2.10 across the campaign, a number which only betters matches involving Bursaspor.

With everything considered, I really, really like the look of Under 2.5 Goals at 109/100 (Marathon).

Best Bets

Hajduk Split v Istra – Hajduk Split to win ‘to nil’ (10/11 Bet365)

Galatasaray v Basaksehir – Under 2.5 Goals (109/100 Marathon)

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