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Turkey Overcomes Austria in Round of 16

While most of the last 16 games were characterized by controlled, calm, and organized play, the Turkey-Austria match stood out for its sheer passion and chaos. 

The passion of Turkey’s fans is well-known, and Austria ultimately buckled under the intense pressure. This victory marked a significant milestone for Turkey as they advanced to the quarterfinals, opening a new chapter for the nation.

Austria Suffocates Under Turkey’s Passion

Austria’s approach to the game was robotic, with no significant changes from Ralf Rangnick’s side. In stark contrast, Turkey’s play was fueled by emotion. The Austrians were expected to win, and most of the odds favored them. After all, they had topped a group that included France, Netherlands and Poland.

Austria’s only group-stage loss came against France due to an unfortunate own goal, and they triumphed in a thrilling match against the Netherlands. 

If Austria won, a rematch against Ronald Koeman’s side, who had calmly defeated Romania (3-0), was anticipated. However, Austria failed to overcome the heart and determination of the Turks.

Austria’s Opportunities Overshadowed by Turkish Efficiency

Despite enjoying 58% possession, Austria felt uncomfortable throughout the match. By the numbers, Austria appeared dominant, with sixteen shots compared to Turkey’s three. 

However, these stats quickly lose relevance when considering the quality of chances: only five of Austria’s shots were on target, while Turkey made all three of their shots count, netting two goals courtesy of Demiral.

One of Turkey’s goals stemmed from a brilliant corner by Arda Güler, Real Madrid’s prodigy. The moment was particularly vivid as plastic cups were thrown in his direction. 

For fans familiar with Turkey’s football culture, this is hardly surprising. Turkey’s fans often carry out outlandish actions that are frequently unnecessary. It should also be noted that Germany’s biggest minority group is Turkish, therefore explaining why the Turks’ presence usually feels underwhelming compared to their opponents.

But Arda Güler knew it was coming; he knows the fans. He kept calm, and his corner was converted into a goal by Demiral – marking the beginning of their revenge. Austria had trashed Turkey a few months earlier with a humiliating 6-1 defeat, and the Turks were still livid, looking for revenge. 

Here it was, as Turkey seemed to completely dominate the clash, despite Baumgartner and Marcel Sabitzer finding a couple of opportunities. 

Austria found it hard to break through Turkey’s rock-solid defence, as Ferdi Kadıoğlu often stopped Austria’s attempts down the wing. Kadıoğlu often won his duels, regaining possession for Turkey, before unrolling an attack down his wing. 

Ralf Rangnick’s side could not find an answer to Turkey’s relentless pressure, culminating in a dominant performance by the Turks that horrified their detractors.

Stagnant Austria: The Creative Void in a Critical Match

Throughout the tournament, a major criticism of Ralf Rangnick’s Austria was the team’s lack of creativity. Sure, Baumgartner is the main man, and he’s one of the main reasons Austria even went this far. 

But the team still struggled to break the mold of typical underdogs. They lacked a clear reference point up front, which was glaringly evident in their inability to penetrate Turkey’s defensive block.

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Heart Over Head: How Passion Led Turkey to Victory

Of course, tactics are involved, and yes, there could be an entire article based on the fact that Turkey has a rock-solid defence, but above all, has players deciding the flow of the games in a very aesthetic way. But all this would be useless and dull if it could exclude the emotions the match witnessed. 

Omitting what Turkey’s confidence felt like would feel emotionless and robotic. The show that Turkey’s fans displayed became the twelfth man for Türkiye, and this explains the difference between Austria and Turkey. 

Arda Güler exemplified this emotional resilience. Amidst the pressure and hostility, he remained composed, letting his performance on the pitch speak volumes. In contrast, Austria’s players seemed overwhelmed by the occasion, lacking the experience and composure to handle the high-stakes environment.

The emotional high point came in the dying moments of the match when Turkey’s goalkeeper, Mert Günok, pulled off a miraculous save to deny Austria a last-minute equalizer.

Austria’s Shortcomings vs. Turkey’s Cohesive Blend of Talent

While Austria’s performance deserves commendation – they outperformed expectations and showcased the benefits of the ‘Red Bull’ philosophy of high-pressing football, intensity, and organization – there were notable shortcomings. 

Running a national team cannot mimic the operations of a football club, where the sense of national pride and the emotional weight of the crest play pivotal roles. The national team’s badge carries a significance that surpasses any club emblem.

Turkey exemplified the art of blending domestic talent with players plying their trade across Europe, like Arda Güler. Despite their differences, they’re all united under the Turkish flag. 

They display a passion that is renowned worldwide. Turkish fervor for their Motherland often transcends the boundaries of football, becoming a strong force on the field.

This confidence, sometimes perceived as arrogance, empowered Turkey’s defense to continually stifle Austria’s efforts, shifting momentum in their favor. There is no better embodiment of Turkish passion than Demiral scoring in the first minute, disrupting Austria’s game plan and forcing them out of their comfort zone.

First-Minute Shock: Demiral’s Early Strike Sets the Tone

Throughout the tournament, with the notable exception of their match against France, Austria had always taken the lead, often striking early. Demiral’s goal in the very first minute, turned the tables on Austria, forcing them to abandon their usual strategy of pressing and waiting for their opponents to make mistakes.

In many ways, this exemplifies the essence of knockout-stage football: the ability to impose one’s game plan and disrupt the opponent’s rhythm. Turkey dragged Austria out of their comfort zone, compelling them to adapt and innovate under pressure.

Looking Ahead: Turkey’s Quarterfinal Challenge Against the Netherlands

Turkey’s qualification for the quarterfinals marks a significant milestone in their footballing history, setting up a clash with the Netherlands, who emerged victorious over Romania. 

Similar to Turkey, the Netherlands have built their success on a solid defensive foundation, but they also boast an impressive attacking duo in Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons, promising another thrilling encounter.

Most tipsters wouldn’t have given Turkey a pass to the quarterfinals, and their match against Austria was the most intense of the Last 16. 

Except for the game against Portugal, all of their matches have been filled with intensity, drama, and pressure – can they deliver another top performance against the Netherlands? 

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