Başakşehir passes another milestone on road to championship

Published 22.01.2019 00:17

Başakşehirspor and Trabzonspor, the two most charismatic teams in Turkish football at the moment, faced each other this Sunday. The former has been the pinnacle of organized football in Turkish football since the beginning of the season, and the latter has played the most entertaining football for the last six months. Thus, the clash was not only between two championship contenders but two fundamentally different football disciplines.

Although Başakşehir's 4-2 victory implies a clear one, it was a close call and the curve ball could have broken differently. The most important lesson that one must learn from this game is that if a team wants to press intensely in the first 15-20 minutes of the game, that team should make sure that it can score at least one or two goals in that period. Since the following exhaustion is incredibly dangerous - as we have seen when Başakşehir scored two goals in a row after breaking the press - the pressing side should not withdraw from the offensive without anything in hand. At least a goal would allow the pressing side to retreat and rest on the defensive for another 15 minutes to get ready for another offensive toward the end of the first half. But while Trabzonspor bombarded Başakşehir goal with everything at its disposal in the opening minutes, the outcome of this suicidal effort was nothing on the scoreboard.

Secondly, although Trabzonspor is incredibly fun to watch - especially compared to Başakşehir's dull game - the speed and directness that bring fun do not guarantee victory against an organized side like Başakşehir. What Trabzonspor plays is essentially chaotic, and in that chaos, it creates opportunities with fast players. But Başakşehirspor is not the kind of team that will allow its opponent to have a huge amount of space and time for attacking directly.

As a result, Trabzonspor had to play in tight spaces, losing the ball countless times and having to put up a great effort to win it back. Therefore, the whole plan of destabilizing Başakşehir from minute one was in vain and it cost Trabzonspor dearly in their physical effort for the last 70 minutes.

If I were Trabzonspor coach Ünal Karaman, probably I would have played the same gamble. Apparently, Trabzonspor did not use the transfer break to add an organized game to its arsenal and against such an organized side it had only one chance. If it had played defensively and let Başakşehir take the initiative, the result would have definitely been in its opponent's favor.

First, Trabzonspor does not know how to play slowly with build-ups. Second, Başakşehir has played slowly with build-ups throughout the last three years and mastered that game. Hence, Trabzonspor had to make a quasi "Ardennes assault" knowing the chances are low, but there is no other option.

However, this lack of options should be a warning for Trabzonspor, a team Turkish football needs more than anything right now. It is fun to watch and it has revived the football passion of frustrated Turkish fans. Thus, with an organized game in its arsenal, I think Trabzon can compete for the trophy next season - if it is too late for this season.

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