Şenol Güneş's team started the season with a tough win against Antalyaspor, a team that has become a constant threat in the Super League in recent years. After a tiring pre-season period and a mentally traumatic Super Cup final, the team needed this win. Nevertheless, Beşiktaş were fined by the Professional Football Discipline Council for their fans' attitude in the Super Cup final against Konyaspor, and the game was played in an empty stadium. Thus, the game was destined to be a boring one, since fans are the reason why professional football is played. But an even more important reason why the game was truly boring was that Beşiktaş signaled that they might return to the survival tactics of last season despite their enormous squad.
First of all, Beşiktaş scored both of their goals from dead balls; a free kick and a penalty. Although the efficient use of dead balls is a sign of a well-planned strategy, unfortunately the goal defender Pepe scored from a free-kick was not a result of a pre-planned set-piece but an individual effort to chase a chaotic opportunity. I do not mean to say that Beşiktaş have no plans for dead-balls, they certainly have. But they are clearly open to more elaboration and sophistication, given Beşiktaş have great free-kick takers like Ricardo Quaresma and Talisca, and they have many players who have a dangerous aerial command like Pepe, Dusan Tosic, Cenk Tosun and Alvaro Negredo.
However, dead balls make up of only a small portion of a football game and the real profit lies beneath how well one plans the game with the ball and without the ball. At this point, Beşiktaş are behind Başakşehirspor, Trabzonspor, Konyaspor and even Fenerbahçe with their newly appointed coach Aykut Kocaman. Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş simply cannot return to the revolutionary style he employed in his first season at Beşiktaş, and the fear of being unsuccessful in the Champions League seemingly forced him to choose more pragmatic tactics.
Now, even with survival tactics a team can become champions of the Super League, Beşiktaş proved that last season. Nonetheless, this season not only are the opponents accustomed to Beşiktaş's classic Quaresma-centered game, but they have also prepared more elaborate plans. With their current strategy and tactics, Başakşehirspor, Trabzonspor, Konyaspor and Fenerbahçe are the favored sides against Şenol Güneş's team, despite their diverse and rich squad. The reason why this scenario has happened is that coach Güneş has not created unity within this diversity. One must understand that football in reality does not work like it does in video games, and a team cannot develop when the individuals inside of it do not develop. Collectivity and faith in the coach is what takes a team to the next level. This season will not be like the last two for Beşiktaş, they better wake up to it.
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