Fenerbahçe's game is beyond the Turkish football language
by Arda Alan Işık
ISTANBULMar 12, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Arda Alan Işık
Mar 12, 2016 12:00 am
It was exactly the 32nd minute when the Turkish commentators of the Fenerbahçe-Braga game lost faith in Fenerbahçe and their coach Vitor Pereira. One of the most famous football columnists in Turkey said that Fenerbahçe had no midfield players, arrogantly ignoring Pereira's strategy. Thus, the consensus on the game until Fenerbahçe's decisive goal was that the Turkish side were below expectations. Even though a clean victory for Fenerbahçe suppressed their criticism for a bit, Turkish football commentators, and their language, do not to understand modern football.
First of all, the categorical difference between Fenerbahçe's tactics and any other traditional Turkish team's tactics were seemingly overlooked by the Turkish media. Regardless of the offensive and defensive priorities, Fenerbahçe's strategy consists of two sides, the forward and the back of the game, creating a structural difference. Unlike the traditional approach, which assumes there has to be three parts in a formation, defense, midfield and attack, the Fenerbahçe players are responsible for all defensive and offensive actions, rather than being trapped in just one position. This not only makes the game more compact and fluid, but also makes Fenerbahçe able to utilize their traditional opponent's mistakes easier. Therefore, it is illogical to ask the Fenerbahçe coach to put some players in midfield, who only assume so-called midfield duties, and do not get involved in creative or destructive processes.
On the other hand, given Braga's dominant game was the fact that the Turkish commentators became so pessimistic about Fenerbahçe, we need to acknowledge the fact that Fenerbahçe are just beginners in the modern football era, compared to their rivals in Europe. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the structural difference in their tactics does not give Fenerbahçe much given most of their opponent's know how to play modern football. For instance, Braga dominated the game throughout the 90 minutes against Fenerbahçe, even though the Turkish side played their usual tactics - the ones that have made them leaders in the Super League.
The reason why Fenerbahçe were unable to find the opportunities they are used to finding was simple, Braga implemented the same structural strategy, but rather than having defensive priorities and opting for shock-presses in the opponents' half. which have led to counter-attacks, they chose to reinforce their attacks with so-called defenders and dominate the field. Do not let the term "domination" seem abstract to you, it simply meant no time or space for Fenerbahçe to organize counter-attacks and almost every Braga attack was in a circular motion, one after another.
At this point, given Fenerbahçe were willing to let their opponent control the game, it was Braga who had their hands on the wheel. If you let your opponent have enough time and space to organize attacking waves, and if they choose to play it in your half with enough man power, which must be at least six, then you will not have a great chance of creating dangerous opportunities for your opponent.
Yet, I understand why Pereira opted for a defensive strategy at the beginning of the season, as the team was not ready for a radical offensive game and the executive branch expected wins in a short period of time. Nevertheless, he managed to mix modern football with some kind of reformed counter-attacking strategy, and is marching to the championship, if Beşiktaş will not act braver than them. Still, if Fenerbahçe want to be successful in the European arena in the long term, the transformation to a dominant game is a must. The Pereira's present tactics might be enough to shock Turkish football, but not enough to stun Europe.