How does one solve a problem like Sivasspor?

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published

For those who regularly follow this column, it should come as no surprise to see Galatasaray losing to Sivasspor. As for the rest of you who "closely" follow the Turkish Super League, it was a huge disappointment to watch the glorious Galatasaray struggling to find opportunities against a dull Sivasspor. The ensuing media shockwave was so powerful that it led to denial. Headlines like "Tudor possessed Terim's soul" and "Returning to Ostersunds" appeared for no apparent reason. It seems like the Turkish media simply does not want to blame Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim but instead it is an unfortunate incarnation of his predecessor Igor Tudor's ideals. The strange thing is, none of them were talking about Tudor when Terim was getting the wins.

The headline "Returning to Ostersunds" was very ironic because it implies that in terms of offensive strategies nothing has changed since Terim arrived. If you remember, Ostersunds was an unknown Swedish team which Turkish football media saw as a piece of cake for Galatasaray. Nonetheless, when Ostersunds showed clear domination over Galatasaray, it was a total shock for analysts. As I wrote last week, Tudor knew the offensive deficiencies of his team and he was working on a strategy to improve the offensive performance that cost him his job. Unlike Tudor, Terim has focused on defensive issues and making his team more reliable in the back, leaving the offensive creativity to his individual talents. Like what happened to Tudor against Ostersunds, Terim also failed against a dull but tough opponent simply because Galatasaray's individual talents were blocked.

Although it is very obvious that the squad has not changed much with Terim and the offensive strategies have stood still, the consensus among sports analysts was that Galatasaray is a different team. There were serious amendments in the team's defense indeed, but this fact did not transform Galatasaray into a completely different team. Attributing some mysterious powers to Terim's motivational speeches also did not work; Galatasaray simply failed offensively, as they did at the beginning of the season.

What the media fails to see here is that offensive performance does not rely on individual performance but on collective action. Against attacking opponents it is easy to find sufficient space and time to compensate the organizational deficiencies with individual talent, but what happens when you face a team like Sivasspor? Is it impossible to find a decent amount of opportunities against teams that leave less space and time in their half and leave the initiative to their opponents? Well, it is possible, but neither coaches nor players in Turkey have the time to dedicate themselves to such organizations and suffer the consequences. Added to that, team executives don't have the time to be losing because the next elections are always right around the corner, so immediate success is seen a must. Thus, it looks like Sivasspor will stay as an unsolved problem for a long time to come as long as they are not expected to score.

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