The race is on but Galatasaray is in trouble

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 26.02.2019 00:07

Galatasaray striker Kostas Mitroglou's late winner gave the Lions three crucial points, keeping them in the championship race. While Galatasaray fans were disappointed with Mbaye Diagne's performance, Mitroglou's unexpected contribution gave the fans hope that they can keep up with league leaders Başakşehir.

However, it must not be forgotten that Galatasaray could not score against Akhisarspor, who are at the bottom of the league, for 93 minutes until Kostas Mitroglou saved the day. It is no secret smaller Super League teams have learned how to tackle Galatasaray's pressing strategy, but as the game against Akhisarspor showed, the situation has now become dire for the Istanbul giants.

In the following weeks, Galatasaray will face tough opponents like Yeni Malatya, Konyaspor, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş and Başakşehir, along with some other moderately competent teams. This means that the Lions will play five of their last 11 games against the toughest opponents in the Super League. As if testing their abilities before setting off on this journey, Galatasaray faced Benfica and saw its deficiencies in the offense beforehand. Nevertheless, it turned out Fatih Terim did not see these deficiencies or tried to compensate for them with individual talents against Akhisarspor. This should be Galatasaray's final warning, as it will no longer face an opponent like Akhisarspor, but only better.

What makes this problem even worse is that Galatasaray's primary opponent in the championship race, league leader Başakşehir, has a better-organized strategy and more or less the same amount of high-quality players. What this means is that Başakşehir is able to play bigger games better since these games tend to be more controlled and slow.

Galatasaray's pressing game used to work better against weaker teams in the past and Terim used to compensate the points lost in big games with those. But as Turkish teams became immune to intense pressing against their defensive build-ups, Başakşehir has the upper-hand in the strategic duel.

Fatih Terim needs to assign more specific playmaking roles to either Younes Belhanda or Selçuk İnan to create a more stabilized game. What allowed them to push the game into Akhisarspor's penalty box was the regulative play style of İnan in the second half.

Without a clear playmaker on the pitch, opponents easily prevent Galatasaray from continuously attacking by simply tiring them. The intense pressing strategy is aimed at pushing the opponent to make lots of mistakes near its penalty box, but if you cannot score one or two goals in this period then your team loses a lot of stamina to score. In order to compensate this and keep Galatasaray in the race, more organization is required on the pitch.

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