Understanding Beşiktaş, guidelines for Porto

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 11.09.2017 23:25

The Champions League group stage starts today and Turkish side Beşiktaş will play a crucial game tomorrow against strong Portuguese side Porto. Although Beşiktaş are not on their best form at the moment, they are still a dangerous team, especially in away games. Coach Şenol Güneş prefers to play a careful and controlled game in the Champions League, and if their opponents try to attack them in an imbalanced manner, they have plenty of players who can punish them. Nevertheless, the biggest problem Beşiktaş has is that the team still do not possess a collective game plan for dominating attack. In other words, Beşiktaş tend to rely on individual talent when they have to score.

First of all, defensively Beşiktaş have more or less decent squad depth and good positioning. The only issue in defense is that the first choice for coach Güneş, Gökhan Gönül, is injured and they sold Andreas Beck, who Gönül replaced, to Stuttgart. Now, Necip Uysal, a defensive midfielder, fills that position but coach Güneş may choose Adriano in that position, who is a left-back. Still, it will not be easy to break through Beşiktaş's defense without pushing the game into Beşiktaş's half or pressing fiercely in the final third. The latter option is more viable due to Beşiktaş's talent at counter-attacking and their inefficient passing skills in defense. Porto may catch Beşiktaş's defense out if they can manage to block the passing options, like in the Gegenpressing model.

On the other hand, if Porto cannot back up their domination or Gegenpressing with decent defensive support, it could turn into a catastrophe for them. Beşiktaş's midfield and wings are composed of talented players who can be very dangerous if given enough time and space. If Anderson Talisca and Oğuzhan Özyakup in the center can deliver the ball to Jeremain Lens, Ricardo Quaresma or Ryan Babel on the wings without being disturbed by the Porto midfield, it is almost certain that Beşiktaş will find clear opportunities. Added to that, with Caner Erkin and Adriano at the back, coach Güneş may opt for lots of crosses into the penalty box, with Alvaro Negredo or Cenk Tosun in the center. Either way, blocking the connection between the wings and the midfield is the key for Porto's defensive success.

Another weakness for Beşiktaş that Porto may utilize is the lack of support the Beşiktaş midfield gives to Atiba Hutchinson in front of defense. A scenario where Beşiktaş start Özyakup and Talisca would put too much work on Hutchinson, as he is the only bridge between the defense and attacking midfield. If coach Güneş starts with Tolgay Arslan rather than Oğuzhan Özyakup, it would be harder for Porto to break though in the center, but that would also make Anderson Talisca an easy target for the Porto defense. According to squad and the attitude of Beşiktaş in the first 15-20 minutes, Porto may opt for domination or counter-pressing, but it would be wiser to utilize the latter in the beginning as Beşiktaş's defense may be shaky.

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