Fenerbahçe's play was enough to beat Başakşehir, but not enough for championship
by Arda Alan Işık
ISTANBULJan 24, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Arda Alan Işık
Jan 24, 2017 12:00 am
Başakşehirspor, the only unbeaten team in the Super League, tasted their first defeat against Fenerbahçe this Sunday. Both teams proved that they had studied their opponent's play well before the game, but clearly Fenerbahçe coach Dick Advocaat found more creative ways to disturb his opponent's plans than his colleague Abdullah Avcı. Interestingly, the game was not a usual home game for Fenerbahçe, Başakşehirspor was the attacking side for most of the game.
Nevertheless, with the clever use of four-five men blocks in defense and midfield, Dick Advocaat managed to stop Başakşehir, and hit them with counter-attacks. Although this game worked well against Başakşehirspor, I have serious doubts about how Fenerbahçe can win the trophy with this strategy.In contrast to their defensive order and intelligence, the most obvious indicator of Fenerbahçe's attacking ignorance was that against Başakşehirspor whenever a Fenerbahçe player got the ball, he immediately dribbled toward the opponent's half without considering the positions of his teammates. Of course, the most basic instinct in football is to go to the opponent's goal, but quality in tactics is dependent on the creative and collective ways you can achieve that goal.
Certainly, running amok and making decisions that circumstances dictate rather than game play dictate is a clear sign of offensive dullness. Especially Jermain Lens, most probably on the orders of Dick Advocaat, ignores every set-piece, if there is one, and dives into the opponent's defense, hoping that his pace will bring the time and space he seeks. Thus, given Başakşehirspor, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe's main title rivals this year, are better attackers than Advocaat's team, there needs to be an improvement in attack in order to be champions.
On the other hand, Başakşehirspor learned that their game is not fast enough to create time and space against such defensively disciplined opponents. Given Fenerbahçe's direct approach in build-ups, there were not much horizontal passing for Başakşehir to conduct counter-pressing in the final third, so their most valuable strategy was neutralized by their opponent. Nevertheless, they successfully changed their game to a more dominant one in the second half, taking the defenders closer to the midfield and trapping Fenerbahçe in their own half. But their opponent was simply faster to block spaces than Başakşehirspor's pace to circulate the ball. Therefore, even though Başakşehirspor circulated the ball well in Fenerbahçe's half, almost no pass in this circulation was particularly dangerous.
Individually, I must say Başakşehirspor's promising midfielder Cengiz Ünder has some fundamental problems. Even though he has great vision and talented feet that can deliver great passes and shots, I saw him a couple times when he was using only his left foot, making him considerably slower and less capable of delivering the right pass. On the other hand, I believe Fenerbahçe should not insist on Salih Uçan anymore, after years in Istanbul and Rome, his game has not improved noticeably, and his physical condition indicates that he is not working well. I am always in favor of giving chances to young talents, but Salih has to show that he deserves that chance if he wants to stay in the team.
Fenerbahçe goalkeeper Volkan Demirel's strict insistence on kicking the ball into the opponent's half was another indicator of Fenerbahçe's offensive dullness. On the other side, Volkan Babacan saved a penalty again, which was his fifth save in his last 14 penalties, Babacan saved at least one in three penalties in the last two years. His overall performance was also decent, proving that he deserved the number one spot in the national team after his colleague Demirel left the national team.