Fenerbahçe's overall performance against Benfica in the first leg of the Champions League Qualifiers was promising and alarming at the same time.
Coach Phillip Cocu managed to build a solid defensive system, with the whole team defending firmly when Benfica had the ball. But the Yellow Canaries offensive performance was terrible. They had three shots in the entire game and only one of them on target.
This shows that Cocu's strategy is halfway done, given the team's defense working out pretty well. Now, he must find a way to increase his team's attacking efficiency, but it might be too late for the Champions League.
The biggest problem Cocu faces is the terrible circulation in the opponent's half. Fenerbahçe could not even make three passes in a row against Benfica and allowed the game to be played in their half for most of the game.
This was also a big problem under Aykut Kocaman, Cocu's predecessor. While Kocaman tried to find a way to better circulate the ball in the final third, the season was already over. Therefore, one would have to be a real optimist to expect a great offensive improvement in the next game against Benfica.
If I were a Fenerbahçe executive, I would not be worried for the long term because Phillip Cocu is on the right track. Just like Kocaman, he is trying to create a sophisticated, repeatable strategy for his team, and that is the formula for long-term success. But for the time being, the Dutchman is forced to play chaotically in the offense, since it is the only way to score against Benfica at this moment.
As my fellow readers would know, I would never advocate for chaotic strategies since they do not yield consistent, reliable results. But given the fact Fenerbahçe does not possess enough firepower to deal with Benfica and victory is a must, I see no other solution but to push the game into chaos and hope to utilize the great atmosphere in Kadıköy.
On the other hand, a chaotic approach would mean Fenerbahçe becomes defensively unstable. Given Benfica is a serious threat in counterattacks, chaos may very well backfire.
Thus, at least for the first half of the second leg, I do not expect Cocu to attack with full force, but he will probably try his chance with dead balls and lucky shots before taking any serious risk. If Fenerbahçe can find a goal without losing their defensive shape, everything can become square again. Otherwise, each minute that passes goalless will force Fenerbahçe to take more and more risks.
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