Preview: FC Bayern – Besiktas Istanbul

Justin Separator February 18, 2018

FC Bayern could have been hit much harder. The draw brought the Champions League great encounters like Real Madrid versus Paris or Juventus versus Tottenham. For the Munich team, however, it was an opponent they last faced in 1997 in the group stage of the Champions League. These were the only two duels between FC Bayern and Besiktas Istanbul. Both ended 2-0 for FCB.

The (recent) past

For Besiktas, the last sixteen is already a kind of historic success. In 1987 they were already in the quarter-finals of the 1987 European Champions’ Cup, but on their way there they benefited from Nikosia’s exit in Round 2, which for political reasons did not start. At that time, it took the Turks only two victories against KS Dinamo Tirana (Albania / 2-0 and 1-0) to reach the round of the last eight. The final destination was Dynamo Kiev (0-5 and 0-2). On the other hand, the value of this year’s success is already higher. In a balanced group with Leipzig, Monaco and Porto they prevailed as group winners. Proof of international class.

In the recent past, Besiktas has achieved its greatest European successes by competing in the smaller Europa League. In 2017, they narrowly failed in the quarter-finals because Lyon won the penalty shootout. In 2012 they made it to the round of sixteen, where Atlético Madrid was too big (1-3 and 0-3). Especially in the Champions League they never got past the group stage.

The success that has been achieved since Senol Günes became the black eagle’s coach is all the more impressive. In 2015 he was appointed to the post, after Besiktas had not won the title since 2009 and the Turkish Cup since 2011. Both in 2016 and 2017 the championship went to his team. Although they failed to win the cup, this is not so dramatic in view of the attractive and successful football that Besiktas played.

Senol Günes enjoyed some success with Besiktas.
(Image: Stuart Franklin / Bongarts / Getty Images)

What football does Senol Günes stand for?

In the 2015/16 season, Besiktas played perhaps the most attractive and fastest football in a very long time. Günes implemented a more than solid build-up play and a strong positional game – at least at the national level. The team was able to handle high pressing and combine it with high speed. Two old acquaintances from Munich played an important role at that time.

On the one hand, the leading goalscorer Mario Gomez and on the other hand Jose Ernesto Sosa, who played a central role behind him. He was the playmaker who united all the team parts, gave the necessary structure and set the scene for his offensive players. On this basis, it is possible to analyse how the current Senol Günes team works or should work.

Günes stands for tactical flexibility. He adapts his instructions according to his own squad and the opponent and changes them from game to game. However, Besiktas is basically a very offensive team in the 4-2-3-1-1/4-4-2 under him, and the wing focus was an important building block for success in the first season. Quaresma and Töre occupied the offensive outer lanes and brought a lot of danger. Besiktas knew how to free these two players with good combinations and movements.

However, the dependency was never so great that the centre was neglected. There Sosa collected 19 scorer points in the Süper Lig. The team lacks such a player today. Talisca, who is borrowed from Benfica, has been able to score 17 goals in all competitions so far and has a good ratio of about 130 minutes per goal, but he is not as strong as Sosa in the structural area of his position. Rather, he is a kind of second striker, which does not contribute much in the passing game and ball circulation, but radiates a great goal threat.

However, no current player in the squad seems to be a good playmaker. Günes has adapted the game accordingly. Especially in the Champions League he often changed to a less dominant and sometimes deliberately chaotic approach.

In the games against AS Monaco, for example, Besiktas tried to bridge the midfield with long kicks on his own left side. That’s where they finally overloaded. Then. the second or third balls were to be won at the latest, in order to move out of the confines to the right side where Quaresma was waiting. The Portuguese is no longer an outstanding one-on-one player. In the Champions League, opponents often had him under control.

Adriano (LB) pushes forward, the six and the ten move towards the left side and and the eight towards the six. Thus Besiktas overloads the left side. The reaction of the Germans will be interesting. Does the six move over to compensate? Will the attacking players press high? Besiktas will try to play on the left zone, then resolve to the right where Quaresma is waiting. Bayern can either prevent the first long stroke with high pressing or they can defend their own right side intelligently zonally. If the switch of play is made, it gets dangerous.

Nevertheless, Quaresma is extremely dangerous if he gets space. His crosses are often precise and always a great risk for the defending team. Over time, Besiktas has become very dependent on high flanks. In the home game against Porto, Quaresma alone shovelled 18 crosses into the penalty area.

This often made sense in the first half of the season, because Tosun was a player in the squad who can be described as a complete striker. He is not only strong with his head, but also good at finishing and talented with the ball. Every 103 minutes he was involved in a goal and at least some of the playmaker gap in the centre could be concealed. His transfer in winter was a bitter setback.

Talisca scores regularly and Negredo, who also has a strong header, is a joker now and then (78 minutes per goal) but both have clear weaknesses. None of them is as complete as Tosun. Therefore Besiktas signed Vagner Love in winter.

Even this was not a 1:1 replacement for Tosun in the last few games, but it was nevertheless a considerable improvement. He not only has the necessary robustness, but is also able to create his own chances and bring movement into offensive play. Obviously, however, he still needs time to integrate himself perfectly and his qualities with his header are not at the level of Tosun. Here Besiktas has lost considerable strength.

On the next page you will find out what Bayern have to be prepared for in the first leg. How will Besiktas act?

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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