Last week I wrote in my piece that the game between Trabzonspor and Beşiktaş will be decisive for both teams. The game turned out to be exactly that way Sunday.
Trabzonspor coach Abdullah Avcı, with his pragmatic counterattacking strategy, managed to beat Beşiktaş’s daring transition game. Avcı forced his opponent to play a much more dominant game than it is used to and stretched his opponent’s game length. As a result, Beşiktaş was neither able to bring Josef de Souza and Atiba Hutchinson around its opponent's penalty box, nor could it defend its goal properly. As the cherry on the top, Trabzonspor winger Anthony Nwakaeme and goalkeeper Uğurcan Çakır’s brilliant performances secured a 2-1 win and a much more tactical victory for the Black Sea Storm.
Almost everyone anticipated before the game that the ball was going to be mostly under Beşiktaş’s control. Indeed, after building a seven men defensive juggernaut in the center, Abdullah Avcı provoked Beşiktaş to push its defense forward. His idea was to drag Beşiktaş into its half as much as possible so that he can launch lethal counterattacks after intercepting the ball.
He knew that Beşiktaş’s offensive strength comes from outnumbering its opponents at lightning speed. Hence, he understood that Yalçın’s team is not a dominant team that likes to possess the ball rather it is a team that dares to attack suddenly with everyone except the central defenders.
The weak link in this daring transition game was balanced, as Beşiktaş rapidly advanced toward its opponent’s penalty box without securing the back. If you are able to stop this first assault, then the entire momentum of Beşiktaş’s attack is lost, and Yalçın’s team has to return to their mediocre possession game. The seven-men juggernaut gave Avcı enough defensive strength to stop Beşiktaş’s center and then launch his counterattacks.
Fifteen minutes into the game and already having given away multiple opportunities, Beşiktaş defensive midfielders Josef de Souza and Atiba Hutchinson stopped going forward to cover their own penalty box. Nevertheless, Beşiktaş kept trying to attack the same way, despite having fewer men upfront. The result was a stretched, outnumbered team that could neither attack nor defend properly.
However, Beşiktaş somehow found the opener from a cross from the wing, getting huge leverage against a counterattacking team. It should have returned to a more defensive strategy immediately, but Yalçın made another crucial mistake by not changing anything. Especially, right back Valentin Rosier should have been pulled back to contain Anthony Nwakaeme’s dangerous dribbles, but instead, Josef de Souza had to run back to cover his area all the time.
After this crucial mistake, it was no surprise that Nwakaeme brought the equalizer for Trabzonspor. By leveling the game, Avcı was saved from taking extra risks, something his team was definitely not ready for. Instead, it was once again Beşiktaş who had to take risks.
As Yalçın increased the pressure and left more and more space behind his defense, the game became more and more suitable for Trabzonspor. It found the second goal from a corner kick, with Nwakaeme once again in the spotlight, with an assist.
Beşiktaş’s newly subbed defensive midfielder Dorukhan Toköz’s red card in the following moments sealed the game. Even though Beşiktaş found another 100% opportunity to score, goalkeeper Uğurcan Çakır thwarted the danger.
This game showed that from now on, Trabzonspor can be called a proper counterattacking team as it prevailed against one of the most dangerous teams in the league at the moment.
Beşiktaş, on the other hand, learned that its daring transition game can fail against organized defenses. Yalçın needs to create a controlled, balanced possession game to complete its daring transition game. However, if this game inspires other Süper Lig teams to do the same against Beşiktaş, it might encounter some serious problems in the near future.