Beşiktaş the new Başakşehir

Published 03.09.2019 00:02

After a pretty long time, almost all of the football columnists in Turkey finally agree on something: Beşiktaş is on the right track. The new manager Abdullah Avcı's team is praised by various columnists from completely different footballing backgrounds. Although the team has earned only four points in three games, the game Beşiktaş played was, by far, the most organized game in the Super League right now. The reason why the team lost five points is not the fundamentals of Avcı's game, but rather is the inexperience of players in playing such a game. That's why the national team break will be a great opportunity for Avcı to address this issue, which I argue has several crucial points.

First, the team has apparently no problem in bringing the ball into the opponent's half, and that is a great achievement in the third week of the season. But still Beşiktaş could not produce lots of clear opportunities in their opponents' halves except in the game against Göztepe. For instance against Çaykur Rizespor this week, the team brought the ball 36 times to their opponent's penalty box, but only found two clear opportunities. The problem here is the pace of the attacks, how fast Beşiktaş brings the ball into the opponent's penalty box. For the time being the attacks are very slow and opponents have no trouble in intercepting the ball before a threatening opportunity arises. Hence, although Beşiktaş had all the statistical superiority against their opponents, they could not reflect this superiority in the scoreboard.

The roots of the problem are twofold and they are strongly interlinked. The first part of the problem is straightforward: Players still do not know how to act collectively in the final third of the pitch. Unlike the first two parts of the pitch, time and space become a scarcity in the final third. Combined with the need for speeding up the game to throw the opponent's defense off-balance, the game travels on the verge of total chaos. At this point rather than diving into chaos with full force, Beşiktaş wisely chooses to slow down the game to have more control. Nevertheless, this gives opponents enough time to settle in defense to repel Beşiktaş attacks. Thus, despite the total control of the game, Beşiktaş mostly circulates the ball around the opponent's penalty box without a clear chance.

Now, there are two options to address this problem: Avcı can either increase the speed of the game prematurely by relying on individual talent and chaos, or can take his time and slowly build an organized and effective game in the final third. It is clear that the second option will not yield results in the short term, but as it happened with Başakşehir, Beşiktaş can become a regular contender of the championship in the long term. Regardless, Avcı's team is right now on the right track and all they need is patience and a bit more experience.

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