Fenerbahçe finally recover, but there are still a few things to consider
by Arda Alan Işık
ISTANBULOct 01, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Arda Alan Işık
Oct 01, 2016 12:00 am
For the first time since his arrival, Dick Advocaat's Fenerbahçe played a satisfactory game against a serious opponent last Thursday. Even though, Dutch Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord arrived in Istanbul in great form, winning all seven games in their local league and not losing a single official game since July, Fenerbahçe dominated the game throughout the match. Given Advocaat's team finally executed the fast, long counter-attack game that the Dutch coach had in mind against Feyenoord, their opponents mostly chased Fenerbahçe around the field rather than playing their own game. Surely this is a good sign for Fenerbahçe and more can come from it, but the dangers of this counter-attack game must be scrutinized.
First of all, Fenerbahçe's physical strength is not sufficient to play this game without having breaks in the game. Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid was the best team who embodied this strategy and even they could not maintain the speed this game demands for 90 minutes. Advocaat wants his team to play over a very wide area, almost the whole field, and this makes it almost impossible to cross into the opponent's half without losing balance. The problem is, Fenerbahçe want to attack immediately as soon as they capture the ball, but the length of the game does not allow them to do that with sufficient precision.
For the time being, Jeremain Lens and Emmanuel Emenike's physical skills carry this tactic, and without them Fenerbahçe struggle to get out of their half. The reason is simple, while Lens and Emenike are on the field, the team can make direct long passes from their penalty box to the other, being confident about these two players' strength. Nonetheless, when the ball is headed to Moussa Sow, Robin Van Persie or Alper Potuk, there is not the same precision and speed. Thus, right now the players' individual skills occasionally compensate for the team's overall tactical deficiencies.
However, the cure here is simpler than Dick Advocaat thinks and the Dutch coach is looking for answers in the wrong places. Rather than increasing the length between defense and attack, Advocaat must get them close to a point where direct balls will not unbalance them. His midfield trio, Ozan Tufan, Josef de Souza and Mehmet Topal make up a overwhelmingly defensive midfield and seeing as Advocaat has no intention to include the midfield in his attacking strategy, there is a huge gap for Fenerbahçe in the middle of the field. But, this is an extremely dangerous decision and any opponent who dominants the midfield can break Fenerbahçe's game easily, as many Turkish teams have done this season.
Added to that, while Advocaat's strategy is suitable for players like Emenike and Lens, many other players like Van Persie, Potuk and Sow are left out of the game because of the coach's radical decisions. But there will be times when Fenerbahçe will have to change and adapt their game, and when that time comes Advocaat will need these players to change the course of the game. Therefore, it is better to find a strategy that utilizes most of the squad and most of the creative range of the team. The most imminent and dangerous issue is that Fenerbahçe are becoming slightly one-sided, and it is always harder to fight with one weapon against opponents who are prepared against that weapon.