The league is now officially over, and Beşiktaş are officially champions now. It is the 15th championship for the Black Eagles and added a third star to the team's jersey. Nevertheless, I realized that I focused too much on strategically and tactically reviewing Beşiktaş and that I rarely wrote about the individual performances. As many of my earlier tactical pieces suggest, their strategy this season was definitely not the best this team could have produced, and individual performances led the way to the trophy, so this piece is solely about them.
Let's start with goalkeeper Fabri, the man who has done so many good things that are left in the shadows. Fabri's main impact on the team was the confidence he automatically gave the Beşiktaş defense, making it more confident and relaxed, making the team less prone to simple mistakes. However Fabri also made some simple but very obvious mistakes, the mistakes that goalkeepers see in their worst nightmares. Thus, the Turkish media bashed him pretty quickly but overall, his command of the area and reactions, as well as his contributions to set-pieces, were more than enough for Beşiktaş.
On the defensive side, right back Gökhan Gönül was the usual choice for that spot, but unfortunately Gönül was far from his golden days at Fenerbahçe. His attacking skills and experience made the right wing more dangerous, but his physical decline combined with Ricardo Quaresma's neglect of defense made Beşiktaş's right wing a sweet spot for the opponents.
Left back Adriano also had a similar story with his right wing colleague, and bit more of an attacking contribution. Adriano's ball skills made him an option for the midfield, relieving coach Şenol Güneş when he had a narrow space for tactical substitutions. Added to that, his physical qualities were also below par for a team like Beşiktaş, and given those qualities kept declining, it was clear that he had not worked well.
Center backs Dusko Tosic and Marcelo are two completely different stories, covering each others' mistakes pretty well throughout the season. While the former was the energetic, athletic and reckless one, the former was the calm, commanding and slow one. When Tosic made simple mistakes Marcelo was there to cover and when a fast striker got past Marcelo, Tosic was there to save the day. Both had good stopper qualities but lacked good playmaking skills, which is related to coach Şenol Güneş's decisions.
In the midfield, defensive midfielder Atiba Hutchinson was the key man, by being the most successful interceptor in the league and building the bridge between defense and attack. He is the darling of almost every fan because whenever the defense needed help Atiba was there and when the team could not get the ball into the opponent's half Atiba was again there. He alone compensated for the lack of set-pieces in build-ups and individual qualities in defense, making the team's tactics effective at all times.Other defensive midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup has never reached his true potential since he came from Arsenal, but still more or less organized the team's attack after Atiba brought the ball to him. Özyakup was expected to be the maestro of the team, as Anderson Talisca did this season, but rather he stayed a box-to-box player, contributing to all sides but mostly attack. Still, Beşiktaş fans expect him to take the lead, but I believe his inefficiency is related to the way coach Şenol Güneş uses him.
However, as I said above, the maestro of the team was Anderson Talisca and he truly was one of two key players for the team's attack with Ricardo Quaresma. He scored 17 goals and had six assists in 33 games this season, despite missing two months because of injury in the first half of the season. The attacks were always shaped by him and only him, making him the most important player in the attack.
After Talisca, I would say Ricardo Quaresma is the most important player for the team, with his dribbling skills and crosses from the right wing. Whenever Beşiktaş could not open the game up through Özyakup or Talisca, which happened a lot, Quaresma saved the day with his skills, to the point that the team became dependent on him.Lastly, strikers Vincent Aboubakar and Cenk Tosun delivered the target man role they were supposed to. Although they clearly lack the versatility, elasticity and finishing skills of the striker Beşiktaş needs, they were enough to seal the title this season.
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