It was Aug. 6 when Akhisarspor, a humble Anatolian side, showed the whole country how to defeat Galatasaray. The memories of the World Cup were fresh then, and it was evident for any careful eye that Akhisarspor coach Saffet Susiç understood the lesson learned from the World Cup: Talentless organization is categorically better than talented chaos.
The last decade of European football has been a manifestation of the superiority of organization over chaos, and Susiç knows that. Nevertheless, despite a Super Cup loss in early August, Fatih Terim did not change his talented but chaotic game against Susiç, and expected to get a different result.
As you can guess, the result was even more catastrophic, as Galatasaray, a Champions League participant, was sent back home to Istanbul from the small town of Akhisar with a 3-0 defeat. Terim tried to do what he did against Lokomotiv Moscow five days ago, but Akhisarspor did not play like Lokomotiv Moscow. What made Galatasaray's counterpressing so effective against Lokomotiv Moscow was the opponent's inability to punch through intense pressing. Rather than narrowing the space between attackers and defenders, so that Galatasaray's press would be away from their goal, they accepted the game around their penalty box and every ball they lost became a vital threat.
However, Akhisarspor did something different than Lokomotiv, something they did against Galatasaray one and a half months ago. They pushed their defenders closer to midfield and did not allow the fear of counterattacks to leave space for Terim's talented players. This had two clear results; first, Galatasaray had to regroup and lose time when they intercepted the ball since the distance to the Akhisar goal was too long to go directly. Second, Akhisarspor were able to shift the wings quicker, so they caught Galatasaray's defense off guard.
In Terim's strategy, it is crucial to deliver the knockout blow as early as possible, since the intense pressing drains the energy of the team rapidly. If you can manage to tire Galatasaray before they score a goal or two, you can survive Fatih Terim's most dangerous weapon. Then, all you need to do is exhaust the already tired Galatasaray by shifting wings and circulating the ball as much as possible. Saffet Susiç implemented this strategy perfectly, and with a bit of luck, they survived the first half and then delivered the knockout blow in the second half. After that point, Galatasaray simply lacked the energy and strategy to counter Akhisarspor, and the game turned into a catastrophe.
It will not be a long time until other teams start to implement the same strategy against Galatasaray, and Fatih Terim better prepare a plan B. Otherwise, with this limited chaotic press, success in the Champions League and Super League will be hard to achieve. Terim's counterpressing is chaotic because it is only planned in the final third of the game. The strategy does not involve the whole team and while the attackers of the team press intensely, the defenders float around their half aimlessly. It is almost certain that high quality teams will use that against Fatih Terim.
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