While everyone is talking about Fenerbahçe's downfall - as if it was a big surprise - there are actually more important things to talk about in Turkish football nowadays. The "Big Three" of Turkish football, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş, have had poor runs so far. But this has given other teams a rare opportunity to shine in the Super League. Teams like Kasımpaşa, Antalyaspor and Yeni Malatyaspor have all played some great games already, and they all have a solid, definite strategy on how to defeat their opponents. But I find Malatyaspor's performance more intriguing since it resembles another Turkish success story - Başakşehir.
This resemblance is important because just like Başakşehir, Yeni Malatyaspor relies on collective action rather than individual talent. Although Kasımpaşa and Antalya also play with a specific strategy, they are more reliant on individual talents and that makes them vulnerable. As a team which was only promoted to the Super League two years ago, Yeni Malatyaspor has shown the whole country that you do not have to have great individual talents and a game dedicated to them to be successful.
Of course, the offensive line made up of Guilherme, Khalid Boutaib, Danijel Aleksic and Adem Büyük is better than most teams in the Super League. But this Thursday it proved itself playing away to Erzurumspor, one of the toughest teams to beat on the road. What's more, it managed to stage a comeback from 1-0 to win 3-1 and all without Guilherme, Boutaib and Büyük.
The absence of its three important players did not prevent Yeni Malatyaspor from creating opportunities. As one of the best counterpressing teams in the league, it made life difficult for Erzurumspor and stole lots of balls to create opportunities. After scoring the equalizer, it returned to its classic counterattacking strategy and punished over-extended Erzurumspor with two more goals.
Yeni Malatyaspor can play counterattacking and counterpressing football very well and the only thing absent in their arsenal is a good possession strategy. It suffered because of this against Kasımpaşa, which has a very similar team, but with better individual talents like Trezeguet, Diagne and Eduok.
When Kasımpaşa found an early goal, Yeni Malatyaspor turned to counterpressing but unlike Erzurumspor, Kasımpaşa did not circulate the ball around their half and played directly into counterattacks. This forced Yeni Malatyaspor to do the last thing it wanted to do, which was play a possession game. Thus, the result was a crushing 3-0 defeat against Kasımpaşa.
Yeni Malatyaspor must now invest in a possession game during the winter break if it wants to become competitive in the championship race. Opponents like Başakşehir, Kasımpaşa and Antalyaspor can easily push Malatyaspor into a possession game with an early goal and it should have a response when that happens.
I think Malatyaspor also needs to strengthen its bench, especially if they want to be champions this season. One or two transfers for the offensive line can really help in the case that primary players are injured or suspended.
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