Kocaman's strategy finally pays off

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 25.09.2017 20:28

After one of the most peaceful pre-derby periods of all time, the derby itself was one of the tensest in Turkish football history. Both Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş fought for victory until the last minute and the outcome of their excessive will ultimately came down to the high number of fouls and red cards.

Yet, despite the fact that referee Ali Palabıyık made serious mistakes, what determined the fate of the game was that Fenerbahçe coach Aykut Kocaman read his opponent's game better than Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş. Thus, Fenerbahçe managed to eliminate Beşiktaş's offensive power, got two penalties from the few attacks they organized and eventually got three points. First of all, Fenerbahçe's defensive strategy was almost flawless until they were down to 10 men. They managed to cripple Beşiktaş's wings and made them push through the middle where Fenerbahçe were more men.

Added to that, they never used their wing backs on offense; rather coach Kocaman gave them man marking duties which decreased the efficiency of Beşiktaş wingers Ricardo Quaresma and Ryan Babel.

On offense, Giuliano and Valbuena played closer to the center, in order to both keep the center crowded and play more direct passes to striker Janssen. Thus, Kocaman's plan, which was based on the premise that Beşiktaş had no other offensive option then wing crosses, paid off and he showed every other team how to cripple Beşiktaş.

On the other hand, as Kocaman's strategy shows, what led to Beşiktaş's defeat was not Fenerbahçe's incredible creativity but rather Beşiktaş's inability to adapt his game to plan B.

Up until this game, no other team including Porto could stop Beşiktaş's wings, and to be honest most of them did not even seriously try.

Nevertheless, Aykut Kocaman proved us the fact that I have been preaching for the last two years in this column, that Beşiktaş is bound to their individual talents and have no serious collective strategy.

Şenol Güneş's team knows how to bring the ball to the wings but then everything is up to Ricardo Quaresma and Caner Erkin's talent, and they usually create something out of it. But whenever their connection with the center is interrupted and the opponent has men to mark them, then Beşiktaş is clueless.

Now, it is almost obvious that a team in Champions League cannot move on with such an individual based, one-way strategy.

Either Leipzig or Monaco or both will utilize this deficiency of Beşiktaş and without a collective strategy to utilize time and space better, Beşiktaş will probably have very hard times in CL. But it does not have to be this way; the team is full of talented players and has a coach who has a rich history of collective action.

Hence, they can turn this defeat into a very valuable lesson and a chance to be a more versatile team. As Kocaman's victory shows, collectivity always pays off in the end and it is always more reliable than individual talent.

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