Monday, June 17, 2024

Galatasaray 3-0 Fenerbahce: Talking points as Galatasaray win Super Lig title in style

Veselin Trajkovic in Editorial 5 Jun 2023

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Galatasaray have clinched the Turkish Super Lig title with a game to spare in arguably the most satisfying way – by beating chief rivals Fenerbahce 3-0 at the Nef Stadium on Sunday evening. The goals that brought this huge victory were the work of two loanees, AS Roma’s  Nicolo Zaniolo (two) and Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauro Icardi.

Okan Buruk deserves new Galatasaray contract

Having replaced the struggling Domenec Torrent in the Galatasaray dugout last summer on a short-term deal, Okan Buruk has certainly shown he has the managerial qualities to do the job on a more permanent basis.

It’s never easy, being in charge of Galatasaray. Every man who gets appointed will invariably be compared to the legendary Fatih Terim, the man who has already returned to fish the club out of difficulties no less than four times. However, with Buruk, it seems that won’t be necessary for a while. His contract expires at the end of the month, and presuming the initial agreement was in place for the purpose to testing his capabilities, the 49-year-old should be given a new, longer one, promptly.

Buruk is already a legend at Galatasaray, having played for the club for 11 years and won six Super Lig titles in that time, along with one UEFA Cup, and he surely won’t have too many difficulties in winning the affections of the supporters.

Exploiting the opposition high line

The most obvious advantage Galatasaray had over Fenerbahce in this game was the result of Buruk’s plan to exploit the visitors playing with a very high back line, something that usually suits pacey attackers who make the most out of the space in behind.

To get the most of that, Buruk decided to leave 37-year-old Bafetimbi Gomis on the bench and put Baris Yilmaz, 15 years younger than Gomis, next to Icardi upfront, and it worked like a charm. Yilmaz is said to be appreciated greatly, not just by Buruk but by Icardi as well, and the Paris Saint-Germain loanee is said to have taken time to work with the youngster himself, recognizing his ability.

Fenerbahce boss Jorge Jesus is known for his teams always playing attacking football, looking to get on the front foot quickly by keeping their lines close together and as far from their goal as possible. It has mostly worked well this season, but in this game, it proved to have been their downfall.

Yilmaz was a proper problem the Fener defence couldn’t deal with, but Nicolo Zaniolo and Kerem Aturkoglu did even more damage, with the former scoring twice and the latter getting his sixth assist in the last four league games.

Nicolo Zaniolo

There are many big clubs around Europe seeking for a player like Zaniolo, fast, creative, capable of doing plenty with nothing to start from, and all that at the age of 23. On the other hand, they will be wary of his potentially problematic injury record. Zaniolo suffered a cruciate ligament rupture which forced him to miss almost the entire 2020/21 season, followed by a large number of separate absences due to minor niggles.

For the moment, there hasn’t been much talk about interest in his services for this summer, which is understandable given that he only moved to Istanbul in February this year, signing a contract set to keep him on the Bosphorus until 2027.

But it’s hard to imagine the 11-cap Italy international staying at Galatasaray for four more years. With all due respect to the club, the Turkish Super Lig isn’t quite what young players as talented as he is aspire to. A return to the Serie A is likely to be on the cards at some point in the near future, though the rest of the top five European leagues shouldn’t be dismissed as his potential destinations either.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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