The most peaceful pre-derby period

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 23.09.2017 01:32

Turkish football is going through possibly the most peaceful pre-derby period this week. Last champions Beşiktaş will visit Fenerbahçe for one of the most crucial games of the early season, but there have not been many statements from either club. Ercan Güven from Milliyet calls the game a "shy derby," emphasizing the fear of losing on both sides. Nevertheless, there is a good reason, especially for Fenerbahçe, to fear given derbies are the best tools to reverse the momentum. As many columnists suggest, I do not think that losing would hit Beşiktaş as hard as it would Fenerbahçe. Given the latter has already lost many points and could not prove their strength yet, losing against their archrival in their home would be the loss of the final castle.

First of all, Beşiktaş has earned lots of credit so far, both in terms of results and game play. Their victory against Porto in Portugal boosted the team's morale, and in their last game they did not seem tired or spoiled, in contrast they seem on top of their game. Thus, seeing as Fenerbahçe have a long unbeaten run in their home and have the mental superiority, Beşiktaş would not make this game a life or death matter for themselves. Even if they lose the game, they are still in good condition in both the Turkish Super League and Champions League. So, if Fenerbahçe wins, it is business as usual but if Beşiktaş wins, Fenerbahçe's chances for championship would be severely threatened.

The reason is simple: After their elimination from the Europa League by Vardar and consecutive point losses in the Super League with a weak display, Fenerbahçe's morale is low and they desperately seek an opportunity to prove themselves. Nevertheless, the strategy and tactics of a team is unfortunately independent of the morale of a team. In other words, regardless of the mental preparation you make, it cannot turn into formations or set pieces by themselves. Therefore, Fenerbahçe would still be the same unready team with lots of expectations and anxiety, which is a deadly combination in most cases.

However, Fenerbahçe should approach this game patiently, acknowledging that their opponent have two years of preparation and experience of playing together, unlike their brand new squad and coach. Their coach Aykut Kocaman is preparing the future of the team, just as Beşiktaş's coach Şenol Güneş did two years ago. Even though I believe that nothing would be the same for them in case of a defeat, it still should not discourage Fenerbahçe given their long-term project. Beşiktaş can win the game and maybe even the championship at the end of the season, but they can win the future.

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