Imagine this... your team is 1-0 down, struggling to create opportunities, and you need to make a substitution. You have two defensive midfielders and an offensive midfielder on the pitch, who organizes the few opportunities your team creates. Would you take off one of the defensive midfielders and replace him with a forward, or would you take off the only player who is able to organize attacks? Logic would tell you to take off a defensive midfielder in order to increase your offensive strength. But that is not how Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş's mind works nowadays. He prioritizes defense even when he is losing against a defensive team. His decision to play two defensive midfielders regardless of the situation on the ground only decreases the team's offensive edge. And unfortunately for Beşiktaş, its opponents have figured this out.
Adem Ljajic is right now the only player who can deliver key passes in the Beşiktaş midfield. Though the club has many players who can be effective given enough time and space, no one other than Ljajic plays so effectively in a tight space with minimum time. He is doing what he is supposed to; after all, he was signed up to offer a solution to Beşiktaş's talentless possession game. But he cannot do it alone – Medel is too busy defending, Oğuzhan is too afraid to lead from the front and Necip is not even a proper midfielder. Even though Ljajic is surrounded by a group of talented wingers in Quaresma, Lens and Babel, the trio needs a playmaker to create time and space for them. Wingers are executioners, not organizers, so Ljajic is left alone in the playmaking role.
This came out as a huge problem against Malmö since the Swedish side was very organized in defense. Beşiktaş did find some early opportunities in the first thirty minutes by forward pressing, but could not make them count and as a result, was left exhausted.
If the Black Eagles had scored inside the first half an hour, it would have forced Malmö to attack more aggressively, leaving more space and time behind. But in the second half, the roles were changed and with some crucial mistakes from Caner Erkin and Loris Karius, Beşiktaş found itself in a tough position – being forced to play a possession game against a winning opponent.
At this point, it is obvious that Beşiktaş still does not have an option other than a Quaresma cross-frenzy. Some readers have accused me of making the same point again and again, but the problem is that the same problem arises in every game again and again. It is actually not me, but Şenol Güneş's tactical lethargy that makes the reliance on Quaresma a reality.
This time, however, Güneş did something even worse and took Adem Ljajic off to put Quaresma in. The only player who is capable of operating in front of strict defenses was taken off to put a player who would only cross into a crowded penalty box. This was the manifestation of Şenol Güneş's strategy and that he did not have any plans other than crossing to score goals against defensive teams.
This strategy cannot bring significant success to Beşiktaş since it is one-sided and easy to repel. The only thing you need to do to stop Beşiktaş is to let the team tire itself in the first half, strike with an organized counterattacking strategy and retreat to your half and enjoy.
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