A crushing 4-1 defeat against Dinamo Zagreb shocked the whole Fenerbahçe community ahead of a crucial derby against Beşiktaş. On the other hand, Beşiktaş was able to get three points with three goals against the Norwegian Sarpsborg with a clean sheet, without really even breaking a sweat. But these results can be pretty misleading given the different atmosphere Turkish derbies have over any games Turkish teams play.
Yet, it seems that Beşiktaş still has the tactical edge against their archrivals, but it will be a close one. The number one reason that makes Beşiktaş the slight favorites is the shift of paradigms both teams experienced after the national team break.
Before the break, Beşiktaş was lost between different strategies although they were talented in front and Fenerbahçe's game was extremely dull despite their stability. But the roles were switched after the break, now Beşiktaş are more stable than Fenerbahçe but not as dull as them.
Adem Ljajic has brought the necessary talent to Beşiktaş's midfield which coach Şenol Güneş could not get from Tolgay Arslan. Thus, Beşiktaş is still dangerous in the transition game without sacrificing their balance.
Things did not go that well for Fenerbahçe after the break and despite a tough win in Konya. It was obvious that something was wrong. The fundamental problems of the team were revealed one by one as Dinamo Zagreb pressed Fenerbahçe's midfield with six men.
The only way Fenerbahçe were able to bring the ball to Dinamo's half was with goalkeeper Harun Tekin's goalkicks to striker Michael Frey. It was a truly shameful performance in which no Fenerbahçe player resisted, they accepted the result after conceding two goals in a row and waited for the game to end.
This makes one think that there could be problems between the players and head coach Phillip Cocu. Really, this type of submission can only be explained with something dramatic like this.
However, derbies are great momentum changers, and they can either boost your morale and performance or destroy them. Cocu is obviously needs to win to boost his team, but Şenol Güneş is in no hurry.
Although Fenerbahçe's Şükrü Saraçoğlu Stadium creates a hellish atmosphere for the away team in a derby, it's hard to think it will be enough to boost Fenerbahçe for 90 minutes. It will most probably a very careful game with both sides avoiding fatal mistakes but failing to deliver attacking efficiency. A typical derby game with the first 20 minutes being really important, but if Beşiktaş can survive, they have another crucial weapon in their arsenal.
Beşiktaş is by far the best team in dead-ball organizations in Turkey right now, and the Quaresma-Pepe partnership has been the biggest weapon of the team so far. Pepe has already scored three goals in five games and Quaresma has four assists, and regardless of the game Beşiktaş plays, dead-balls are the most reliable weapon for them right now.
Coach Güneş is aware of this weapon and this will allow him to play more defensively since he knows his team can score anytime from a dead-ball. What makes this weapon more important is Fenerbahçe's vulnerability against dead-balls.
Against Konyaspor and Dinamo Zagreb, almost every corner-kick or free-kick became a threat for Cocu's team, and they were not able to stop it. This can be huge problem if Beşiktaş can score the first goal from a dead-ball, then as Fenerbahçe take more risks, Beşiktaş can find lots of opportunities from counterattacks.