The points gap between league leaders Başakşehir and Fatih Terim's Galatasaray widened to eight as the team left two crucial points on the board in the freezing cold of Erzurum. The Turkish Football Federation scheduled Galatasaray's match for 7 p.m., despite the fact host Erzurumspor usually play their games in the afternoon because the weather falls below minus 10 degrees Celsius after sundown this time of year. Thus, there was already a physically and psychologically challenging side of the game, but Galatasaray also failed to dictate play - Erzurumspor was the much better side.
Nevertheless, with only 10 weeks left and even harder games to come, Galatasaray needs to come up with a different strategy alongside their usual pressing game. Firstly, Terim needs to reorganize the fact that his defensive four are still trying to find their feet. The players are new and do not exactly know how to play together. The decline in central defender Marcao's performance is actually related more to the organizational problems in the back than his lack of defensive skills. Without Mariano and Yuto Nagatomo on the wings, the team also failed to integrate their wingbacks into the attacks. Added to that, without defensive midfielder Fernando, who often covers for the mistakes of his fellow defenders, the backline was in tatters.
However, the biggest problem was that Selçuk İnan, the link between defense and offense, was left alone in his duty. Erzurumspor understood early in the game that Galatasaray could not operate effectively in the offense without a good playmaker so they blocked İnan from delivering good balls to the wings. Then, Galatasaray was basically hit with their own weapon, as it happened multiple times this season. Erzurumspor did not waste time in defensive build-ups, played the ball directly into the offense and forced Galatasaray to take the initiative. After that, the only thing needed was a mistake from Galatasaray defense - and Terim's side made lots of them.
Now, it is clear that putting a bunch of playmakers on the pitch is not enough to create an organized game; you need playmakers and a certain strategy. Without it, all a playmaker player can do is deliver good balls occasionally, but a playmaker of a certain strategy will make sure that the system produces regular opportunities. All Terim needs to do and must do right now is to design a specific set-piece, a memorized group of actions, so that Galatasaray can leave its penalty box smoothly and move upwards into the opponent's half without problems. Otherwise, it is certain that it will not be able to catch Başakşehir in the title race because the leaders already have a decent, organized game that allows the team to create opportunities even against the toughest defending units.
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