Galatasaray won the derby against Beşiktaş this Sunday and regained the lead in the Süper Lig after 22 weeks. The match was, as usual, a total disappointment in terms of football quality, and the real losers here were definitely the audience.
Nevertheless, even in such a chaotic football game, the golden rule of modern football never changes: The more you deviate from your original strategy, the more you suffer from confusion. Beşiktaş completely abandoned their usual strategy and paid the price by losing the game and most probably the championship.
In their six-game winning streak, the streak that brought Beşiktaş back into the championship race, the team kept winning by scoring more than they conceded. They scored 19 goals and conceded seven in this period and kept a clean sheet in one game.
So, it was clear that the winning formula for Beşiktaş was not defending, but attacking. The cooperation between Burak Yılmaz, Adem Ljajic, Jeremain Lens and Shinji Kagawa made the team's attacking power superior to most of defenses in the Süper Lig.
All of a sudden however, manager Şenol Güneş decided to bench Shinji Kagawa, push the playmaker Ljajic to the left wing and leave striker Yılmaz alone in the front against Galatasaray. He chose to create a tough midfield line, made up of Atiba Hutchinson, Dorukhan Toköz and Necip Uysal, to prevent Galatasaray from building up in the center.
The idea and the first two choices were totally understandable, but he threw away his team's whole attacking capabilities by changing Kagawa with Necip Uysal, a number 10 with a pure defensive midfielder. This meant that the only plan Beşiktaş had was to press Galatasaray in the final third, so that they could intercept the ball near their penalty box and punish them.
Nonetheless, manager Güneş made a huge mistake by violating the golden rule; he confused the entire system trying to save the day. Beşiktaş had never pressed so hard during the season and obviously the players did not know where to position themselves and when to press.
Although they were somewhat successful in the first 10 minutes, afterwards Galatasaray easily breached the only plan Beşiktaş had. Then, all Beşiktaş had was a confused team, not doing what they have done in the last six weeks, waiting for a miracle to save them.
Despite the fact that everyone is speaking about the referee, the real person responsible for Beşiktaş's defeat is Şenol Güneş. If they had played their usual game, they still would have conceded, but they would also have a good chance of scoring.
Beşiktaş came to Türk Telekom Arena as a championship race contender, because they played a brave attacking game in the last six weeks, and they left the stadium in third, because they were afraid to play their game. But as football repeatedly shows, the ones who trust their game in moments of crisis get the results in the long run, while the ones trying to save the day, well, usually only save the day if they are lucky.