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Turkish football column: Wesley Sneijder’s brilliance, Fatih Terim’s issues & more


A brand new feature on this website is the introduction of weekly & fortnightly columns focusing on various leagues, countries and regions across the World. Firat Aktav analyses and gives his opinion here on the talking points in Turkish football.

With now 6 match days gone by, the Turkish league is still nowhere near promising by any means. The quality of football is low, the attendance average is the worst in history, the national team is yet to secure 3 points in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and out of all this, Beşiktaş, who won their last championship in the 2008-09 season, are in the driving seat.

Sneijder Terim


Individual brilliance in the Intercontinental Derby

The most expected match in the nation, yet again disappointed in quality, but individual brilliance shown by Wesley Sneijder secured Galatasaray 3 points, as the Dutchman scored two wonderful long distance goals in a narrow 2-1 win.

Defending champions Fenerbahçe were impressive for long periods, especially in the first half. The Nigerian striker Emmanuel Emenike wasted a terrible one on one chance nearing the end of the first half and only moments later made a terrible choice of play as both teams went in to the locker room in a stalemate. Raul Meireles was the star of the first half with Portuguese international dictating play in the midfield and bossing around both with his physicality and technical qualities playing neat penetrative passes, as he was the one who created that one on one wasted by Emenike.

However things turned out to be a little different in the second half as Bruno Alves was sent off with a straight red, as a result of a horrible challenge on Blerim Džemaili. This was the second straight red card conceded by a Fenerbahçe center back in consecutive matches, as in match day 5, Bekir İrtegün was sent off with a similar challenge to Konyaspor’s Rangelow. Almost 50 meters away from his own goal, with the opponent’s back turned to the Fenerbahçe goal, and a straight boot to the opponent’s back.  This pretty much shows that coach İsmail Kartal is clearly having disciplinary issues with his players, however to give him credit, his pre-match strategy was working rather well until the dismissal of Alves. However Sneijder’s individual brilliance was the deciding factor, as the Dutchman scored two wonderful goals to put his team ahead within the final minutes of the game, as Alper Potuk’s tap in was only a consolation goal.

Galatasaray will host Bundesliga’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund on Champions League match day 3 and will visit another İstanbul club, Başakşehir on match day 7 of the Turkish league, meanwhile Fenerbahçe will host Ankara’s Gençlerbirliği, as tension continues to boil in Kadıköy, where angry supporters will be demanding an aggressive performance from their team.


Turkish national team shift from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1, without much progress

The Turkish national team started the Euro 2016 qualification campaign with an embarrassing loss against Iceland. Coach Fatih Terim demonstrated a 3-4-3 which was completely torn apart by the Icelandic team, as they overloaded the flanks and overpowered their Turkish counterparts in all parts of the pitch.

The game against Czech Republic showed glimpses of hope, especially in the first half as Terim switched to a more traditional 4-2-3-1 this time, with Atlético’s Arda Turan playing the number 10 role. Turkey started aggressively and took an early lead through Umut Bulut, although failed to protect the lead and eventually lost the game 1-2. The draw against Latvia was just unacceptable for the Turkish football community as Terim wowed to make changes within his squad (something he has said in his both terms with the national team but never really accomplished) and the Turkish media is completely silent as nobody is able to criticize such a figure, not out of respect but out of fear. Terim is known for his aggressive nature, disrespectful behavior towards journalists, using his power and influence to get them fired and all sorts of stuff, so the silence and lack of criticism does not come as a surprise after the disappointing results.


Beşiktaş continue to impress

League leaders Beşiktaş continued their unbeaten run, as they finally managed to secure a 3-2 home win, away from home (confused?). As their new stadium Vodafone Arena is still being built and the Atatürk Olympic Stadium was not in condition for a match, the contest was moved to Ankara. Demba Ba again put on a show as he scored two, and dished out the assist for Olcay Şahan’s winner.

This was the first time Beşiktaş conceded 2 goals this season, as their defensive discipline continues to impress, the black eagles finally managed to show their power in offense as well. Beşiktaş will first visit Partizan on match day 3 of the Europa League and then Erciyesspor in match day 7 and will later host Fenerbahçe on match day 8.


Trabzonspor record first win

Vahid Halilhodžić’s side finally recorded their first domestic victory of the season against Mersin İdmanyurdu with goals from Belkalem, Medjani and Cardozo, after having lost one and drawn four games in the league. Trabzonspor however were not really impressive, as it took them quite a while to break their opponents and not being able to hold on to their lead. Mersin İdmanyurdu equalized through Oktay Delibalta 17 minutes after, but late goals by Medjani and Cardozo sealed the deal for Trabzonspor. Halilhodžić’s side will first host Lokeren on match day 3 of the Europa League and later Gaziantepspor on match day 7, while Mersin İdmanyurdu are still in top 4 and will host Eskişehirspor on match day 7.


Notable mentions

Akhisar Belediye Gençlikspor had an impressive start to the league and were the leaders after match day 4 with 10 points. A devastating 4-0 loss to Başakşehir on match day 5 seemed to be a big blow, however they bounced back with style to defeat Kasımpaşa 2-0 and are currently 3rd in the league.

Another notable mention is on the game between Bursaspor and Eskişehirspor. A fast paced, open contest ended 2-2 with Bursaspor not able to maintain their 2-0 lead and conceding two late goals in the final 10 minutes. Cédric Bakambu delivered 2 goals for Bursaspor, although their 19 year-old midfielder Ozan Tufan was clearly the star of the game.


Talent Radar player of the week

Bursaspor Manager Şenol Güneş has been keen on deploying 19 year-old Ozan Tufan as his main holder in the 4-2-3-1 formation with Fernando Belluschi partnering him. Both players influenced the game from deep, but Ozan Tufan was the one who managed to shine the most. The 19 year-old played the full 90 minutes, had 67 touches on the ball, completed the most passes for his team with 48 while he recorded a total of 20 interceptions, after playing consecutive full games against Czech Republic and Latvia.


Written by Firat Aktav

Firat Aktav

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