Beşiktaş's performance against Genk this Tuesday had nothing in common with their collapse against the same opponent two weeks ago. This time Beşiktaş completely left the initiative to Genk, as the latter did to them in the last game. The only thing coach Şenol Güneş's team planned was simple but effective, press the opponent in their half and strike fast when they are caught off-guard.
Until the 87th minute equalizer by Genk, this strategy worked and Beşiktaş almost got the three points in Belgium. But the crucial point in this strategy is to score as many goals as possible in the early stages of the game when your time is not exhausted from intense pressing – Beşiktaş failed to deliver that.
The unfortunate thing was that Beşiktaş lost their fastest man in this strategy, Jermain Lens, only in the 12th minute. Mustafa Pektemek, who replaced him, is in top form these days, but he is more of a striker than a winger. Thus, Beşiktaş's offensive capabilities in this particular context were hurt from the very beginning of the game.
The team, however, still managed to find a goal in the 16th minute and found numerous opportunities while giving much less to their opponent. But at this point, another crucial problem of the team was exposed – it does not have a high-quality striker to finish the opportunities in the third half.
Ryan Babel has been the main goal scorer for Beşiktaş since the beginning of the season but the best way to utilize his goalscoring abilities is to use him as a hidden striker. I think Vagner Love could have been a better choice in this type of game.
The defensive success of the team was mainly due to the return of Pepe, who is basically the tactical leader of the Beşiktaş defense. Without him, Vida and Roco were destroyed by Genk's counterpressing, forced to make unbelievable mistakes.
But even with Pepe, the Beşiktaş defense is still hesitant to actively engage in offensive actions. Whether it is counterpressing or possession, does not matter, the defenders must back the attacking players to increase the efficiency of the strategy. Therefore, it is still crucial for Şenol Güneş to take control of his defense and push them further up to the midfield line to increase efficiency.
But another important thing to note here is that this was an away game, so Beşiktaş were not supposed to take the initiative anyway. When the team returns to Istanbul, conditions for counterpressing will not be as easy.
Beşiktaş still lacks a proper possession game and are still bound to lucky crosses from the wings. A game should also be built on the connections between Adem Ljajic and wingers, to create opportunities even against tight defenses. Genk was shot by their own gun, but you cannot hit Konyaspor with their own gun in İstanbul, it will be a direct 0-0 game, an unacceptable result for Beşiktaş.
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