As I predicted in my last piece, Başakşehirspor lost precious points as they were unable to defeat Trabzonspor with only two weeks to go in the Turkish Super League. Now, Beşiktaş have a four-point lead, and if they can beat already relegated Gaziantepspor this weekend, they will win their second Super League trophy in a row.Nevertheless, as my fellow readers would know, I never appreciated Beşiktaş's game this year, and I have claimed on several occasions that the team cannot hold on to the top spot for more than a year with their strategy. But since it is about to earn them a Super League championship, it is worth explaining how it worked.
First of all, except some minor mistakes, Beşiktaş had a solid defensive line this year and a successful goalkeeper. Their Spanish goalie, Fabricio "Fabri" Ramírez contributed to the team in ways that what Tolga Zengin never did.
Unlike Zengin, Fabri was never afraid of leaving his goal and commanding his area and the few mistakes he made came from his excessive self-confidence. He made his teammates understand that the balls that are played behind Beşiktaş's defense were in his control and the crosses that were sent as far out as the penalty spot was in his grasp.
This is crucial for two reasons: Firstly, his teammates started to trust their goalkeeper and utilized his presence to share space in their penalty box. Secondly, his activity between him and Beşiktaş's defense made the team's defense not worry about long balls and be able to move forward. Those are crucial advantages in terms of time and space.
The defensive line were generally made up of Gökhan Gönül, Dusko Tosic, Marcelo and Adriano, and they delivered the third best defensive performance in Super League with 30 conceded goals after Başakşehir and Galatasaray's 27.
Added to that, Gönül and Adriano added offensive variety in the wings, which was clearly absent last year. Even though Dusko Tosic made some minor mistakes throughout the season, which was unnecessarily emphasized by other columnists, his energy and physical qualities were great and almost no one talked about that. Lastly, Marcelo also delivered an incredibly stable performance, relieving Beşiktaş fans every time he had the ball.Unfortunately, almost all strategic qualities Beşiktaş had on defense was individual, and not a result of a collective action.
Although the team also had a midfield trio that is suitable for a team game, namely, Atiba Hutchinson, Oğuzhan Özyakup and Anderson Talisca, coach Güneş never thought of getting his defense involved in the offensive build-ups these trio created. Thus, valuable space was not utilized due to lack of cooperation between the defensive four and the midfield trio. Nonetheless, this lack of organization let Anderson Talisca have more freedom and show his individual talent.
On the offensive side, it was almost all about Ricardo Quaresma, and bringing the ball to him in the wings with much space and time possible. At this point I am not sure if I should be sad about the simplicity of this plan or the fact that it is enough to get the championship in Turkey.
Ryan Babel on the other wing and Vincent Aboubakar and Cenk Tosun at center forward were the only other contributors to Quaresma's dribbling and crosses in the wings, which was the main plan. Apparently, Turkish teams did not have enough defensive organization to repel this strategy. But, it is almost certain that this strategy is doomed to fail in Champions League next season, as the recent Dynamo Kiev experience showed Beşiktaş.
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