Everything started wonderfully for Beşiktaş, and just after 20 minutes in the first half they were two goals ahead of Olympiakos. Given that even a goalless draw was enough to qualify for the next round and Olympiakos had serious problems with attacking creativity, almost every Beşiktaş fan thought the game had ended in the 20th minute. Although, Mohamed Elyounoussi scored Olympiakos' first goal in the 30th minute, it did not change the atmosphere of the game. Nevertheless, just before the half time whistle, out of nowhere, Vincent Aboubakar headbutted Olympiakos defender Manuel de Costa and got a red card. The exact same scenario happened to Beşiktaş just one month ago, against their archrivals Fenerbahçe, and they were defeated that night. Thus, in a moment, Beşiktaş fans stopped chanting songs of glory and started to worry that the game might turn into a catastrophe.
My non-Turkish readers may not know that Beşiktaş have a very bad reputation of losing games and trophies in the last minutes by their own simple mistakes. Until last year, when they finally managed to win the championship after seven years, the team would always start the season well, and then drop to third or even fourth spot by the end of the season. After coach Şenol Güneş became the manager, this attitude dramatically changed and Beşiktaş turned out to be a team that made incredible comebacks. Nonetheless, the memories of a painful decade do not disappear after one successful year, and the Beşiktaş fans knew that their team might still display this horrendous characteristic.
However, with Olympiakos' terrible offensive performance against a 10-man opponent, Beşiktaş managed to hold on to the game for another 30 minutes, until the70th minute when the team started to launch counter-attacks again. If Beşiktaş had conceded another goal in that 30-minute period, the game might have turned out to be a total collapse, which likely would have ended up hurting their league form by proxy. But give the devil his due, Beşiktaş were disciplined and dedicated. Even though Olympiakos did not possess great attacking weapons, they were ferocious in their efforts to find a goal and even that must have fatigued the 10-man Beşiktaş. If it had not been for Beşiktaş's defenders' extraordinary physical effort, the team could have collapsed against Olympiakos.
Seeing as this was another abnormal game for Beşiktaş, I do not intend to comment on tactical and strategic issues deeply. However, Beşiktaş's counter-attacking strategy, which centered on Anderson Talisca rather than Ricardo Quaresma, proved to be more effective than relying on Quaresma's fancy dribbling. When two defensive midfielders Oğuzhan Özyakup and Atiba Hutchinson create the bridge between defense to Talisca, then the Brazilian forward becomes a great conductor for Beşiktaş's attacks. If Şenol Güneş wants a more stable and consistent offensive performance, he should work more on this strategy rather than merely bringing the ball up the wings.
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