Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Fenerbahce 2 - 0 PSV Eindhoven: The Dawn Of A New Era

Fenerbahce 2 - 0 PSV Eindhoven: The Dawn Of A New Era
By Ozgur R. Nazilli

Let us be honest now: How many of us would have believed it if someone came to us at the beginning of the season and say "Fenerbahce will have 8 points at the end of the first 4 group matches, and be undefeated in Europe for 9 matches"? I for one would have a hard time imagining something like this. But this exactly is the case now. Fenerbahce is one point behind of Internazionale in a group entirely made up of champions of their respective leagues, with not one single defeat in the last 9 European games (3 from last season, 6 from this one).

Confidence in Fenerbahce was high prior to the PSV game. Even the Dutch media was not very hopeful of a win in Kadikoy, after the 10 men performance of Fenerbahce in Eindhoven, and it happened exactly as they feared.

Fenerbahce dominated the game from the start to the finish, and even though they relaxed and loosened their grip on the game after the second goal, they never relinquished the control to PSV. This is exemplified by the fact that Fenerbahce had 8 shots on target, whereas PSV had only 3. But what is even more important than all the facts and figures is that Fenerbahce has become a European team, and they are playing like one. Even the most cautious media pundits acknowledge this fact now, after Fenerbahce proved this over and over again this season, in every single European game they played. They are not panicking on the field anymore and letting the opposition rule the field, like they used to 2 years ago when they were last in the Champions League. Fenerbahce is not looking up at European teams and hoping to be able to at least match them some day, because now Fener is seeing eye to eye with the very best of Europe.

The PSV game was nothing too spectacular, but the underlying message in the way Fenerbahce played was more satisfying than any sort of scoreline that could be had from an individual game. Fenerbahce has confidence now, they know what they need to do, and execute it to near perfection. What is more astonishing is that just three months ago, a good number of the current Fenerbahce squad was not even at this club, and they became a "team" in a very short period of time. "Team" is especially emphasized because now Fenerbahce is not winning games thanks to individual talent. Now, Fenerbahce is winning because they are doing everything that is right and good as a team. And the star of this show, even though he perhaps has the most modest personality that can be seen in a manager, is undoubtedly Zico.

Zico had a tough time last year, and it is no secret that he was far from being a fan favorite at Fenerbahce. This was due to many reasons, which will not be covered in this article, but he kept his calm and did what he was supposed to do, creating a legendary Fenerbahce in the process. Now, all the Fener fans know that they should be thankful for him and what he has done for Fenerbahce, mainly because if he is allowed to continue at his post for another year or two, he will definitely become the most successful manager in the 101 year history of Fenerbahce. There are some other factors contributing to such a high level of continuous success, like the phenomena that is Roberto Carlos, but they are the topic of another article.

We are witnessing history being made. This year is going to be a milestone in the history of Fenerbahce. Never before have Fenerbahce been so successful in the international arena, but there is more to it than that. Fenerbahce is no more the inexperienced competitor in the European arena. They have yelled out to the world that they are here to stay, and no one can see them as an easy target anymore. Some teams, like Inter, PSV and Anderlecht, learned this the hard way.

More will follow.

(Photo courtesy of Hurriyet.com. Check out their website for more great photos of the PSV game.)

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