Humble Andorra almost beat Turkey

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
Published 10.09.2019 00:17

At the end of 90 minutes, Vodafone Park in Istanbul was full of joy on Saturday night as Turkey won the game against Andorra, thanks to a last-minute goal.

After struggling to score against a weaker opponent for almost the entirety of the match, Şenol Güneş's team was incredibly relieved when Ozan Tufan's header found the net.

This exposed the Turkish team's attacking inefficiency to the level that everyone forgot that the opponent was Andorra, a team that scored no goals but has conceded 11 so far in the tournament.

Actually, Andorra should have been the happy side, as they broke the record and for the first time kept a clean sheet for 89 minutes. The big celebration on the Turkish national team's side after such a victory shows that something is going seriously wrong.

The first warning signs actually came in June, when Turkey lost 2-1 against Iceland. Although the team was good at disrupting Iceland's game, they could not counter two set-pieces and trailed Iceland for the entire game.

That is when the winning strategy against France, pressing the center of the opponent and then launch counterattacks, became obsolete as Iceland was happy to defend. Turkey had to play possession but it could not do it against a willfully defending opponent - giving Andorra the crucial hint about how it should play.

Andorra basically took the idea from Iceland and applied the most fundamental, basic form by parking the bus in front of the penalty box. Honestly, considering most of Andorra's players play at amateurish levels, it would be a bit harsh to expect a lot more from the team.

Regardless, with a bit of luck and pure hard work in defense, they were able to defend their goal for 89 minutes, just minutes away from getting their first point in the EURO qualifiers. Nevertheless, Ozan Tufan's header saved the day for Turkey and saved Şenol Güneş from having to explain such a "sensational" result.

Andorra's effort deserved applause, but there was nothing interesting or new in what it was doing in terms of strategic thinking. The interesting part is that Turkey, which was way more talented and experienced than its opponent, was unable to throw Andorra's defense out of balance.

Despite 85% possession and countless crosses, Andorra had no problem repelling the attacks. As the minutes passed by, the anxiety on the Turkish side increased, while Andorra's confidence grew. The situation was dire until the 41st cross, coming from a corner, found Tufan's head. It took Turkey more than 40 crosses to find the goal as only one-third of those crosses found their target.

Now, it is obvious that Turkey does not have a preplanned strategy about how to score. Manager Şenol Güneş took his cross-frenzy strategy from Beşiktaş and brought it to the national team. But as the last two years in Beşiktaş's history shows, this strategy is not enough to compete in the top flight. If Güneş cannot create efficient set-pieces before the second-round matches against France and Iceland, things may get depressing for the national team after a great start.

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