Tonight, Beşiktaş and Galatasaray will face each other in one of the most crucial ties in their run-up to the title this season. As the first half of the season nears the end, the result of this game will either put Beşiktaş in control of the title race or make Galatasaray safe and sound in the first spot. The Black Eagles are now six points behind of their archrivals and their form in Turkish Super League has not been impressive so far. Galatasaray, on the other hand, was almost flawless against the moderate and weaker sides in the league but could not get three points in any of their big games against Trabzonspor, Başakşehir, and Fenerbahçe. Although Galatasaray coach Igor Tudor will definitely want to prove his talent against Beşiktaş, he is not the one who desperately needs the three points.
We can expect to see a pressing, attacking Beşiktaş from the very beginning of the game. I expect a game like the one against Monaco in Champions League, a high-end press accompanied with an organized game in the center. However, it was the only time coach Güneş tried this strategy and never tried it again in any of Beşiktaş's subsequent games. So, it would be safe to assume that the strategy has not yet settled in the team and Beşiktaş does not have the experience to execute it accurately. But, I still believe that coach Şenol Güneş will opt to go this way because his other alternative does not offer the chance of dominating the opponent, which is the counter-attacking game of a cross-frenzied Ricardo Quaresma.
Beşiktaş got used to this counter-attacking strategy so much that they forgot the offensive, dominant game they played in the first year under Şenol Güneş. In the Champions League, it paid off since most of the teams play offensively and do not sit deep as Anatolian teams. Nevertheless, this does not mean that Beşiktaş is bound to follow this strategy. If coach Şenol Güneş had been able to create a collective offensive strategy, his side would have been top in the Turkish league right now. The problem is, Beşiktaş relies on Ricardo Quaresma's individual talent and his unpredictable character has led the club to extremely bizarre results in a number of occasions.
Now, the proper way of dealing with this offensive dullness would be to consider this game secondary in importance and focus on creating an offensive game first. But, we all know that no team in Turkish Super League can sacrifice short-term success for long-term goals. So it would only be illogical to expect a complete paradigmatic shift from Güneş, but he can return to Monaco game as the baby steps of this plan.
A center with Atiba Hutchinson, Tolgay Arslan, and Oğuzhan Özyakup make up the most balanced and organized core for Beşiktaş's game. Their patient circulation in the middle and neutralization of Quaresma's chaos brings great offensive efficiency. But in that game plan, Anderson Talisca loses his place in the first eleven. Without him, the crosses into the penalty box are significantly less effective, which can be a serious blow to Güneş's game.
However, what the veteran coach should not focus on compensating Talisca's absence, rather on replacing it with a collective offensive strategy. If he can create decent set-pieces between the center and the forwards, it would be much more effective than crosses. Now the question is can Güneş handle this mission? The answer will determine Beşiktaş's fate this season.
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