As Fatih Karagümrük hit the road for its match against Sivasspor, I was most curious about how manager Francesco Farioli would respond to the host’s press in the final third. Sivasspor has an aggressive and dynamic pressing block in the final third, whereas Karagümrük has a very slow build-up to nullify its opponent's press.
I expected Karagümrük's slow defense to make many mistakes, especially with the opening passes, and even before the first minute was up it did just that. It went down just the way I had predicted and resulted in a goal for Sivasspor.
This was not surprising though, since the game plan was always open to such errors. In a slow strategy that uses predictable build-up passes, it is only natural you will make mistakes under pressure from the opponent. The key here is to be able to recover and not let these mistakes turn into goals. The strategies you develop to recover in these situations are as important as the initial build-up plan.
To put it bluntly, Farioli has not yet found a solution to this structural problem. Maybe the depth of the squad does not allow it, I am not sure. However, there is one thing I know – a very agile, very quick, and very athletic defender can solve this issue. It is almost imperative that you will need a fast runner in the back who can outpace the opponent to compensate for the passing errors. Farioli and Karagümrük must find such a defender.
The second solution is much more structured and has to do with the logic of the game. When the ball is lost to the opponent, Karagümrük is still very reserved in its pressing. Since the game demands it, this is perhaps the only structural criticism of Farioli. In this slow passing model, losing the ball is always a possibility and this possibility will come true more often than not. The organized solution to this can be sudden and aggressive pressing.
There are two problems in this matter. Firstly, Karagümrük is not an athletic team. That is, its physical performance does not appear up to scratch for these tasks. I do not know who is responsible for the team’s physical performance and how it works, but the fact is that most Karagümrük players are physically mediocre at best.
The second question is the short and long pass inaccuracies, which are also worsened by physical inadequacy. When it comes to short passes, players do not have a clear choice between the passing foot and the controlling foot. It is a big problem to control every pass with the same foot and to put the ball into play with the same foot. It is a waste of time; it affects tempo and is an open invitation for rival pressure.
Specifically, against Sivasspor, I could not understand why Karagümrük's defense made deep runs back when the ball went into Sivasspor’s possession. Manager Rıza Çalımbay’s team plays in a wide area, so when the ball is lost to Sivasspor, I couldn't understand the logic behind running backward and offering a wide area to Sivas instead of pressing against it.
Nevertheless, Farioli is still on the right track with his organized build-up play. It is just unfortunate that he has a physically inadequate team. However, we should not forget that it takes years to turn such a game plan into a finished product. Farioli and his strategy deserve that patience. Accidents like the 4-0 defeat to Sivasspor should not upset the fans.