WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG
FEYENOORD vs. BEŞIKTAŞ (19:00 BST)
Already this match for Feyenoord is the one of the most important of the season, and they go in to battle depleted after a summer of transfers.
After a strong World Cup for the Dutch squad, defensive trio Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij managed to enhance their reputations that earned them moves at Newcastle United, FC Porto and Lazio respectively. However, the big loss to Fred Rutten’s side may be the departure of Graziano Pellè to Southampton. Last season, the big Italian notched 23 goals in 28 games and technical director Martin van Geel has failed to bring a replacement before Wednesday’s clash with Beşiktaş.
The pressure will be on the massive shoulders of young target man Mitchell te Vrede to produce goals. Standing at 6ft 3inches, his build will be a threat to the Turkish defence however, the inexperience of the big game atmosphere may get inside the head of the big forward and the occasion may be too much for him. Although the attacking threats of Jean-Paul Boetius, Lex Immers and Ruben Schaken could take off some of the burden, although the latter is doubtful with a knee problem.
In defence, losing three big names has really hampered Feyenoord’s chances in this game. At right-back, 19-year-old Rick Karsdorp, who normally lines up in midfield, is set to make his first-team debut in this huge encounter. In the centre, Rutten has veteran pairing Joris Mathijsen and Khalid Boulahrouz available for selection with Terence Kongolo also in contention, although the 20 year old may slot in at left back. If Rutten chooses not to play Kongolo, look to Miquel Nelom to sit in the left of defence. The back four will not fill Feyenoord supporters full of confidence and Slaven Bilic’s side will look to attack down Karsdorp’s side.
With finishing third last season in Turkish Süperlig, Beşiktaş should not have qualified for the Champions League and were only granted the slot in place of Fenerbahçe, who were been banned from European competition due to a match-fixing scandal last season. They travel to Holland with new striker Demba Ba in tow. Ba has a phenomenal goal scoring record at all clubs he has represented and will be a huge threat in this game so Rutten will be looking to stop the Senegal international receiving the ball.
Providing him could see Dutch-born attacking midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup and his excellent range of passing looking to thread Ba through on goal. Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena in the middle of the park will have the job of keeping the former Arsenal man quiet. Up top with Ba could see a partnership with either Cenk Tosun, a celebrated youngster from Gaziantepspor or Mustafa Pektemek, a longtime goal scorer on either side of the Bosphorus strait.
Key to Feyenoord’s plans to defuse Beşiktaş will be dealing with the Turkish team’s flexibility. Bilic may opt to deploy wingers and have former PSV midfielder Atiba Hutchinson play with Özyakup in the centre with Olcay Şahan playing advanced in midfield.
The big question is how can Fred Rutten motivate his team after suffering such losses of quality in their team? If he succeeds, then young players can enter this contest with some confidence and possibly get themselves a result. However, this is a huge task lining up against the leadership of Slaven Bilic. Bilic has defined Besiktas with a new tactical system, described by Sinan Schwarting of Besiktas-International.com as ‘Dortmund-like.’ With the likes of Şahan, Özyakup, Tosun, Pektemek and Ba closing down the Feyenoord defence, this may be a challenge too far for the under-strength Rotterdammers.
I would love to see a Feyenoord win and watch them progress in the second leg with the lead, but my head says they will struggle to score and I fancy the Turkish side to head back to Istanbul with a slight advantage.
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