Galatasaray faced their biggest challenge yet this season when they hosted Chelsea in the Champions League Round of 16 first leg match in Istanbul. The game did not live up to expectations, but both sides managed to grab something useful, a goal each.
However, this article will not be about the goals that were scored, oh no. Instead, we will be taking a look at how Roberto Mancini completely botched his tactical strategy against one of the best Premier League clubs in the world.
His team has become accustomed to a 3-5-2, which has three solid defenders, five influential midfielders and a duo of strikers who know how to get the job done. This has been working wonders in the Super League, but due to his fear of the strength of Chelsea, he decided to field his troops in a 4-2-4.
This ended up biting them dearly.
Galatasaray attempted to play a slow passing game with four guys in the back, two in the middle and two strikers being assisted by the two wingers. This looks nice on paper, but when they lost the ball early on in the game, it only took Chelsea less than 20 seconds to score the opening goal. Losing the ball in the middle of the field with most of the players pushed into the offensive half will leave too much pressure on the back line and the goal keeper. Therefore, the opening goal was easily scored.
In the second half, Galatasaray seemed to switch to their regular 3-5-2, but even this almost ruined them, as they were caught on the counter again, forcing Fernando Muslera to palm away a Fernando Torres strike from close range. The midfielders were once again pushed up the field leaving their own third vulnerable.
When teams face a squad built by Jose Mourinho, they should know that his specialty is counter attacking, whether it be a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1. If Mancini did not know this before, then he better know it now.
Therefore, the next time they face off on March 18, the Italian should consider a 4-2-3-1 or even a 4-3-3, with both choices adding a bit more concentration and closing down quite a bit of space compared to today’s blunders.
In addition, starting Izzet Hajrovic, a kid who rides to pine domestically, was a horrific idea. He played with so much fear that he had to be subbed off for holding midfielder Yekta Kurtulus, who ended up being one of the game’s calmest, yet strongest forces. Hajrovic is known for his speed, strength and ability to shoot from afar, but he had nothing to offer today, which made Mancini look absolutely foolish.
With that said, Mancini needs to do two things for the return leg in London — choose a much better formation where the players do not have to adapt to much, and start the very best available 11 that he possibly can based on experience, confidence and form. By doing these two things, he can possibly witness a draw or victory against a rather off Chelsea side.