Besiktas 1 - 2 Fenerbahce, Also Known As 118-118Commentary • Author: Özgür R. Nazilli • Saturday, March 29, 2008
Long time followers of Fenerbahce know that Besiktas has always been a team that Fenerbahce struggled against. Even in the best days of Fenerbahce, Besiktas, especially in Inonu Stadium, never caved in easily, and always gave Fenerbahce something to worry about. The legendary Fenerbahce 3 - 4 Besiktas match in Sukru Saracoglu, which Besiktas completed without a goalkeeper, 3 years ago is a great example of this. Today, an era ends and a new one begins. Today, Fenerbahce caught up with Besiktas in terms of the games won at 118 matches apiece. Now, it is time for the Yellow Canaries to overtake their archrivals.
It was an exciting game to watch, as is the case in almost every Fenerbahce-Besiktas game. Fenerbahce fans were worried, not because their team was going to face Besiktas, but because Fenerbahce had an extremely important Champions League game with Chelsea just days after the Besiktas match. Knowing how rough the matches tend to be when yellow and navy faces black and white, the Fener fans had every right to be worried. The fact that the game was in Inonu Stadium did not help either (since even though Inonu is a much smaller stadium than Sukru Saracoglu, the fans are very close to the playing field and therefore they can both pressure the referees and the players easily and, unfortunately, throw objects much more accurately.)
Yet it was Fenerbahce who came in firing. The Besiktas fans who might have been happy to see Deivid sidelined for the game had to reconsider their views when the young and promising Colin Kazim proved why Fenerbahce transferred him at the beginning of the season. In the first 10 minutes of the game, Besiktas players were dumbfounded and it looked as if the game was in Kadikoy instead of Inonu. Fenerbahce wings, especially the right wing led by Colin Kazim Richards, battered the Besiktas goal very early in the game. In the 3rd, 6th and 10th minutes, Colin forced his way through the right side of the pitch and finally in the 10th minute, he helped Maestro Alex score the first goal of the night. Captain Alex de Souza, who is known for his unearthly skill with his feet, varied his style a bit and headed Colin's skillful cross into the back of the net, far from the ex-Canary Rustu's reach. Having said that, even though Alex's specialty is his kicks, we know that Alex can really use his head well, which has been proven many times this year, especially in the Champions League. It is astonishing really, how well a 5'9'' (1.75 m) guy can use his head. Literally.
Unfortunately, the fun was over for the Fenerbahce fans after the goal, as Besiktas started dominating the game after Fenerbahce's goal. Around the 15th minute, Besiktas was in full control, and this dominance lasted until BJK's Serdar equalized. With a fast and really well organized counter attack that began, ironically, with Rustu, Besiktas caugh the Fenerbahce defence off-balance and Serdar Ozkan found the back of the net with a low shot. The Inonu crowd went wild and celebrated hard with their players, however their celebrations were short-lived. King Alex (KrAlex in Turkish, the merger of Kral (king) and Alex) once again stole the show and put a big dent in the title hopes of Besiktas. The second goal of Fenerbahce came from a well-organized counter attack, just like the Besiktas goal: Alex found Semih in the Besiktas half (and was brutally downed by the BJK defence right after the ball left his foot), Semih carried the ball into the penalty box, pulled back to dislodge a defender, and rolled the ball to Alex, who was up and running by this time. Well, you know the rest of the story. As it so often happens when Alex and the ball are present together in the opposition's penalty box, the ball found the back of the net with a fierce left-footed drive. Alex, who we are used to seeing highly under control, went berserk after his second goal, ran up to the Fenerbahce fans and climbed the fences built to contain the visiting team. It was an unusual but very welcome sight for the Fenerbahce fans.
Apart from the goals, there were some interesting aspects to the game. For example, much to the surprise of the fans, Zico took out Ugur Boral and replaced him with Semih around the 65th minute mark. A normally expected move, what made this extraordinary was the fact that Fenerbahce was winning 1-0, and Besiktas was attacking Fenerbahce from all sides. Taking out a winger to send in a striker when you are defences is being battered is an unusual move to say the least. However, once again it was proven that Zico knew what he was doing (it's not like the fans needed more proof anyway) and Semih made him proud by setting up Alex to score the second and the winning goal of Fenerbahce. Also, it looked like Ugur was injured when he was coming out, and since Roberto Carlos is out, Zico might have had to sub Semih in, due to a lack of left side players. Still, if it had been the Chelsea match, I can see the likes of Kemal or Ali Bilgin getting Ugur's spot instead of another striker. But, Zico's choice paid out and the very-much-in-form Semih helped Fenerbahce to win yet another game.
Another noteworthy incident in the game was the accuracy of the BJK snipers (!). Alex was hit twice by the objects that were thrown from the stands during the game, and even though no serious injury occurred, this is a very serious problem. The stands in the Inonu Stadium are very close to the playing field and there are no fences to contain the fans. Even though the best way to deal with this problem would be to educate the fans to not threaten the well-beings of the players, this may not be very possible or feasible. As a result, a short run solution could be to either enforce harsher punishments for thrown objects or to build a fence. I hope no fan player will suffer any serious injuries caused by the fans. That would be a really big blow to the image of the Turkish football.
Alex was undoubtedly the man of the match, with two goals to his name. However, it would be unfair to say that Alex was the only one to shine tonight for Fenerbahce. Gokhan Gonul continued his excellent form against Besiktas, and judging by his recent performance, I would say that Fenerbahce will have a lot of teams knocking on their door during the summer transfer window. It is amazing to see a player coming from the second league to play so perfectly. It is as if Fenerbahce transferred Gokhan from Real Madrid alongside Roberto Carlos. My only worry is that as it so often happens, Gokhan will get caught in the glamorous Istanbul nights and lose his discipline. He has been doing so well up to this date, and hopefully he will never stop working hard and he will wear the Fenerbahce jersey for years to come. Volkan was another name who played flawlessly, until the unfortunate counter-attack goal he conceded. However, one goal does not nullify his admirable performance. Come to think of it, every Fenerbahce player worked real hard and did their utmost for the success of their team tonight. Fener fans can be proud of each and every one of them.
The 3 points won tonight are actually worth 6 or even more for Fenerbahce, since this win pushed Besiktas back 5 points behind the top spot. Also, this might have a domino effect for Besiktas, as they will be very disheartened by this critical defeat. There is every chance that this loss will prove too much for the relatively inexperienced BJK manager Ertugrul Saglam to pull back from, and Besiktas' title hopes will be over 6 weeks before the end.
Fenerbahce came away with yet another win from a derby game, as it has been the norm under the Zico rule. If the fans were asked "what is the single best thing Zico did for Fenerbahce?" a commonly heard response would be "he instilled self-belief and courage to the players for the big games." Zico and his students have been extraordinary in important games, especially the European ones. Hopefully, this trend will continue next week, when the Canaries face Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter Final first leg. There is no reason for it to be broken now, even against Chelsea.