Turkey Without Direction, Leadership in Iceland

Fatirh Terim Turkey

Fatirh Terim Turkey

Courtesy of the official Turkish National Soccer Twitter Account (@millitakimlar)


Earlier today we witnessed Turkey play without any meaning or defiance against an Iceland side that did wonders in EURO 2016. This was a World Cup Qualifier and only the home side put in one of their best efforts.

First off, coach Fatih Terim needs to a wake-up call as soon as possible. He is the highest-paid international coach, making over $3 Million per year. For a guy that does nothing but motivate players, pick and choose as he pleases regardless of what is needed and acts like terrible results don’t matter, it is needless to say that he is undeserving of that wage.

One of Barcelona’s decent midfielders in Arda Turan has not been called up for a single qualifier (three so far) due to an issue the coach had with him during EURO 2016. Turan has been the team captain for recent years and Terim let his ego get the best of him. The result? Recently poor performances.

In addition to Turan, notable veterans such as Selcuk Inan and Burak Yilmaz were also absent. Inan scored the free-kick last year that sent Turkey to the EURO’s, ironically against Iceland in Konya, Turkey. Yilmaz scored against the Czech Republic in a 2-0 victory in Turkey’s final group game last summer.

With that said, lets take a look at the mistakes Mr. Terim made.

Mehmet Topal played center-back (while he is normally a central defensive midfielder) and Kaan Ayhan (a center-back) played in the holding midfield role.

Yes, Topal has played in this position before, but only when it was absolutely necessary. Yesterday in Iceland, it was nowhere near that drastic.

He is to blame for the second goal as he failed to close down Alfred Finnbogason before he rocketed a shot into the to corner, doubling his country’s lead.

Ayhan wasn’t the worst, but it was certainly obvious he did not belong in midfield. Topal can distribute and hold down in a midfield role whereas Ayhan stayed in front of the back line a bit too much. he had his passes, headers and tackles here and there, but he was nowhere near as effective in midfield.

One player who has recently captained Bayer Leverkusen as a starting center-back — Omer Toprak — was somewhat awful. He was to blame for at least one of the goals against Ukraine and he somehow deflected a shot (with his face) from 10 yards out past his own keeper.

It was obvious the man was uncomfortable and yet Terim stuck by him based on his recent performances in the Bundesliga.

Terim utilized a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3 holding as the players were all over the field. The method of attack was to pass inside their own half then send long-balls down the right or left. On the right, Yasin Oztekin would receive possession, get double-teamed then lose the ball. On the left, Volkan Sen would dance around one maybe two guys then somehow fail to find a teammate.

It gets better.

Young 19-year-old sensation, Emre Mor, is a winger that is on the rise at Borussia Dortmund. Instead of allowing him to play on the right where he is most comfortable, Terim asked him to play alone up top.

That makes no sense.

The kid has proven himself on the wings and Terim — knowing that he has three strikers on the bench — put Mor up top because he did not want to bench the teenager. If that is the case, bench Oztekin, start Mor on the right and Cenk Tosun up top. Simple.

Iceland played in their trusty 4-4-2 flat and made life ever so difficult for Turkey. Players like Finnbogason, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Birkir Bjarnason gelled and played the passing, countering and simplicity game to near-perfection.

The saddening fact is this: Turkey allowed Iceland to play their game on their home ground as if they needed the help. Terim is on control of this team and it truly showed yesterday. He is a coach that solely relies on motivation, but they did not even have that.

Terim used to know how to get the best out of his players.After cutting their longtime captain, one of their best strikers and the man who took them to EURO 2016, the other players are weary of what can happen if they speak their mind or act up… even once.

Coach Terim is… no… was a good coach. Now, unless he shapes up and gets back to normal by stepping off of his high horse, this team will be nowhere near good enough to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.