HomeGamesArda Guler’s Moment of Brilliance: Orchestrating Turkey’s Triumph Over Austria

Arda Guler’s Moment of Brilliance: Orchestrating Turkey’s Triumph Over Austria

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In the 59th minute of the game, Arda Guler strolled over to take a corner kick. The young Turkish prodigy approached the section of the stadium where Austria’s noisiest fans were gathered.

As he neared, the confetti was unleashed: a hailstorm of beer cups flying at him, near him, and on him. The rain, heavy all night, had swelled to an epic peak. Turkey led 1-0. Guler stood alone, raising an arm to the deluge, not drowning but waving.

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The world already knew about Guler. The Football fans had all seen the long-range goal against Georgia, witnessed his late-season bloom at Real Madrid, read the breathless tributes from teammates and coaches, and followed the origin story of this precocious left-footed teenager from his childhood at Fenerbahce. 

The Build-Up to Glory

Last December, at the Golden Boy awards in Turin, Jude Bellingham warned everyone that Guler would one day follow in his footsteps as European football’s greatest young player.

Bellingham had seen what Guler could do in training, witnessed the way he fought his way back from injury, and observed him putting in the extra gym hours. But even Bellingham couldn’t have predicted how Guler would react to this noise, this hostility, this pressure.

The emblematic moment of Guler’s evening occurred a couple of minutes earlier. Before the perfectly arced corner from which Merih Demiral scored Turkey’s second goal, before Guler turned and cupped a glorious ear to the Austrian fans, before the torment and triumph of the denouement.

Austria had started the second half well and were beginning to home in on an equalizer. After Marko Arnautovic went close, Guler turned and yelled in anger towards the Turkish bench, arms spread wide, barking instructions.

Exactly what he said was lost to the deafening din of the Leipzig night. But the message was clear: enough. We need some help here. There was a commotion on the touchline. Vincenzo Montella threw on the muscle of Salih Ozcan in midfield. A couple of minutes later, Turkey celebrated a 2-0 lead, with Guler the orchestrator of both goals.

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The Mastermind at Work

On a night of thrashing chaos and lawless combat, Guler was not merely the creator but the conductor, not just the passer but the pasha, the lungs, the heart, and the generalissimo energy behind Turkish football’s greatest night in a generation.

Guler’s presence on the pitch was magnetic. He showed he could handle the pressure of this huge occasion for Turkey. The sliding through ball from which Turkey won the corner that produced Demiral’s opening goal was a testament to his vision and precision. The goal, for all its rich farce, owed itself to yet another immaculate delivery from Guler.

For the next half hour, Guler calmed the mayhem: dropping back from his false 9 position to take the ball at close quarters, at times even occupying the quarterback role he used to play in youth football. He almost scored with a ridiculous 50-yard shot, reminiscent of his effort against Osasuna in March that rattled the crossbar.

Even when he wasn’t involved, he still kind of was: constantly pointing, directing, and raging. He waved an angry fist at Mert Muldur for messing up his final ball. He harangued Mert Gunok for an aimless goal kick. On occasion, there were flashes of the same petulance we once saw on the touchline at Madrid, when after seeing Carlo Ancelotti making his fifth and final substitution, he hurled his bib to the ground and stormed down the tunnel.

A Leader Emerges

The startling part of Guler’s performance was how little he resembled the Guler of Madrid, a richly gifted kid who also inspired certain protective feelings, who at times during his debut season appeared to be made entirely of twine and twigs, one of those careers that can really go either way.

In this respect, he could scarcely hope for a better manager than Montella, a coach who just adores talent, who loves building a team around it and seeing it thrive, whether a young Mohamed Salah at Fiorentina or an aging Mario Balotelli at Adana Demirspor. Montella will throw on a half-fit Guler for 20 minutes in a lost cause against Portugal because, you know, why not?

Even after Guler was withdrawn with 13 minutes to go, Turkey still had many deaths to die. Austria laid siege. Gunok made an incredible save in the dying seconds. The quarter-final will take place in Berlin, a Turkey away from Turkey, an occasion the likes of which few will have dared to dream. They are the outsiders on this stage now. But at least they now have a player capable of owning it.

Reflections on a Prodigy’s Journey

Guler’s journey from Fenerbahce to Real Madrid and now the Turkish national team is a testament to his talent, hard work, and determination. His ability to rise to the occasion, to lead under pressure, and to inspire his teammates speaks volumes about his character and potential.

The game against Austria was not just a test of skill but a test of mettle. Guler’s performance was a blend of artistry and grit, showcasing not just his technical prowess but his mental toughness. The manner in which he took charge, demanded more from his teammates, and delivered when it mattered most highlighted his maturity beyond his years.

The Road Ahead

As Turkey prepares for the quarter-final in Berlin, the focus will inevitably be on Guler. His performance against Austria has set a high bar, and the expectations will be immense. But if there is one thing we have learned about Guler, it is that he thrives under pressure.

Montella’s tactical acumen and ability to nurture talent will be crucial in the coming games. The coach’s faith in Guler has already paid dividends, and the duo’s synergy will be key to Turkey’s success. With Guler leading the charge, Turkey’s dream of going further in the tournament seems within reach.

Conclusion

Arda Guler’s night against Austria was a coming-of-age performance, a blend of skill, leadership, and resilience that announced his arrival on the biggest stage. In the deluge of rain and beer cups, amidst the noise and hostility, Guler stood tall, not drowning but waving. His journey is far from over, but on this night, he gave us a glimpse of what the future holds. And for Turkey, that future looks bright.

As the final whistle blew, the Turkish fans erupted in joy, their voices echoing through the Leipzig night. They had witnessed something special, a performance for the ages. And at the heart of it all was Arda Guler, the young prodigy who, for one night, was the hero Turkey needed.

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