The two big guns of Turkish football, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray, will be facing each other tomorrow at Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium and although recently both teams have been inconsistent, we may very well see a balance between the two sides.
Fenerbahçe has learned to utilize the long-ball after a catastrophic Manchester journey and Galatasaray more or less has settled on a compact, short game even though they have been losing against counter-attacking teams as of recent. Nevertheless, Fenerbahçe might feel the absence of Jeremain Lens and Mehmet Topal, but playing at home, where they have not lost a derby for the last ten years will surely compensate for their absences.
Firstly, we have two opposite football philosophies facing each other, and it is hard to say which one is superior to the other. Fenerbahçe wholeheartedly leaves the initiative to their opponent, and pushes them to play in a wide area so that they can conduct fast counter-attacks. Even though Jeremain Lens's speed will be missed, I believe Fenerbahçe has grasped this method and can utilize it without Lens. The question is, will Galatasaray fall into the trap Fenerbahçe builds to dictate their game to their opponents?
Galatasaray coach Jan Olde Riekerink successfully managed to produce a patient team which makes the most passes in the league right now. Nonetheless, their defeats against Trabzonspor and Başakşehirspor, who are fundamentally counter-attacking teams show, their game can be mere- horizontal passing if pressed and blocked effectively. I have not witnessed Fenerbahçe conduct such intense pressing this season; they mostly opt for more traditional defending with more men around the penalty box. But given Galatasaray has practiced a more dominant style successfully this season, at least in some cases, it can be lethal for Fenerbahçe to let Galatasaray play their own game.
However, let's say Fenerbahçe somehow manages to cripple Galatasaray and pushes them to play a more chaotic game. That is exactly where Fenerbahçe's game becomes so beneficial and effective, given their preference for long balls behind their opponent's defense. Despite the fact that Fenerbahçe will play at home, I do not expect Fenerbahçe to control the game, they have no experience of such tactics in the last one and a half years. Thus, if Galatasaray can stay calm and patient, they can force Fenerbahçe to play a game which they have no experience at all.
Essentially, seeing as this is the most crucial game in Turkish football and no coach would risk a defeat in order to implement their own game idealistically, I expect a controlled game where both sides will prioritize defense and will try to disturb each other's game. Although the chances are equal for both sides, it seems like Fenerbahçe's pressing method and Galatasaray's offensive response will determine the fate of the game.
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