Tag Archives: Besiktas

WHAT FULHAM SHOULD EXPECT FROM RYAN BABEL?

Once he was dubbed the next Thierry Henry. The following decade has seen him drifting from Abu Dhabi to Galicia to an unexpected revival in Istanbul. But Cetin Cem Yilmaz asks can Ryan Babel save Fulham from relegation? 

“I can’t do the goal celebration by myself, sorry.”

We are standing in the middle of an empty stadium: Ryan Babel, a videographer and me. We are at the Beşiktaş Park on a weekday morning and shoot some B-roll footage to accompany our UEFA.com interview. We ask the Dutchman to replicate a goal celebration but the answer is negative.

“I only have one celebration,” he says, adding that he doesn’t do that alone. The move involves two players jumping in unison and crashing into each other. This is just a celebration but somehow fits into Ryan Babel’s role at Beşiktaş. Since arriving at the Black Eagles in January 2017, he has never been the leading man but always excelled in the supporting actor role and he will need to do more of the same to save Fulham from relegation.

Image result for ryan babel fulham

YEARS OF REVIVAL

Babel arrived in Turkey as a player who barely revived his career in Deportivo La Coruña, following spells at Kasımpaşa and Al Ain. He is leaving Turkey now as a well-decorated player. In the two years since his arrival, no player in the Turkish top-flight has won more games than him (52). This stretch includes a Super Lig title, a UEFA Europa League quarterfinal appearance against Olympique Lyon (losing on penalties), an unbeaten UEFA Champions League group campaign (a record for a Turkish team), and a return to the Netherlands national team after six years of absence.

Player Goals Games*
Anderson Talisca 31 70
Ryan Babel 29 89
Cenk Tosun 27 48
Álvaro Negredo 18 49
Vincent Aboubakar 12 16

*Beşiktaş players in all competitions since Babel’s arrival in January 2017

He redeemed himself at Beşiktaş, but helped the Black Eagles a lot on the way. Only Anderson Talisca has scored more goals (31) for Beşiktaş than Babel (29) since his debut, but the Brazilian did that in playing 19 games less. Still, that is remarkable for him, given he was outscored not only by Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt, but also by David Ngog whilst at Liverpool (Ngog scored nine Premier League goals in a red shirt onwards 2008, while Babel managed only eight in that period – overall, it was 12 in 91 games for Babel).

Player Assists Games
Ricardo Quaresma 30 82
Oğuzhan Özyakup 21 84
Caner Erkin 15 62
Anderson Talisca 13 70
Ryan Babel 12 89

Beşiktaş players in all competitions since Babel’s arrival in January 2017

What he did in the assists department is not striking at first glance: He is the fifth Beşiktaş player in that regard. Ricardo Quaresma and Oğuzhan Özyakup dwarf him in that category while even Caner Erkin and Anderson Talisca delivered far more in fewer games.

CONSISTENT SCORING

If you look at his overall stats throughout his career, you see a guy delivering similar stats in minutes per goals or assists, either as the wonderkind in Amsterdam, or “the next Thierry Henry” at Merseyside, or the fall guy in the periphery of the Süper Lig elite at Kasımpaşa. Babel kept scoring or assisting once in every two games. His image and career trajectory might suggest otherwise, but Babel is a pretty reliable player in terms of production. And while Fulham fans should not expect him to go on a scoring spree, they can be relieved that he would be there, getting on the score sheet every two weeks (Fantasy Premier League players, take note!).

Team Games Goals Assists Mins/Goal Involvement
Liverpool 146 22 18 167
Ajax 133 29 19 175
Hoffenheim 51 6 4 412
Kasımpaşa 59 14 12 190
Deportivo 12 5 1 130
Beşiktaş 89 29 12 181

Beşiktaş players in all competitions since Babel’s arrival in January 2017

Image result for ryan babel fulham

THE ENABLER

However, Ryan Babel did something more in his second trip to Istanbul. He was just another member of a star-studded frontline at Beşiktaş, and managed to shine when it mattered. The front four of Quaresma – Talisca – Babel – Cenk (Aboubakar in his first half year) was plenty for opposition to handle – especially in Europe, when Beşiktaş had the luxury to find more spaces instead of a squeezed box-play in the Süper Lig. Throughout 2017, Beşiktaş faced remarkable European opposition in the shape of Porto, Monaco, RB Leipzig, Olympique Lyon, Olympiakos – and were never outplayed.

Babel struck key goals in Europe, and overall, he scored with 43 percent of his shots (six goals from 14 shots) in Europe, compared to his still-admissible 22 percent shot conversion rate in the Süper Lig. Much more than this, his movement and intelligent play gave Talisca and Cenk the perfect stage to shine (both made very lucrative deals to China and England, respectively). While right winger Ricardo Quaresma is a trigger-happy crosser, Babel offered flick-ons, one-offs or cutbacks from the other wing – that was how Talisca and Cenk scored dozens.

FULHAM DIAGNOSIS

But what should Fulham be expecting from Babel? After all, a brief look at the table would show their main problem is not the attack, but rather the fact that they are leaking goals. At 49, they have allowed at least six goals than the next poorest defence, which is Burnley, and their goal difference is a shocking -29. For comparison, they have scored 20 goals as did Crystal Palace, who are slightly more comfortable on 14th spot.

However, Fulham, unlike other relegation-battlers, are a team looking to have more time on the ball. Their average possession of 47.1 percent is 10th in the league.  Their passing accuracy is 78.4 percent, sandwiched between other purveyors of the beautiful game, Wolves and Bournemouth (all trail “the Big Six”). Their 177 successful passes in the opposition half per game is better than any other team besides “the Big Six” in the Premier League.

What they do with the ball is another question: Fulham are only sixth from bottom when you question successful passes in the final third (76.7 per game). Despite all this possession stats, they shoot 12.1 per game, and this is higher than only six clubs in the league. And, 47.6 percent of their shots are from outside the box – the higher rate in the league. This 127 shots overall has an xG of 3.25 (mind you, they have only two goals from outside the box).

Team xG
Huddersfield 15,09
Newcastle 19,32
Brighton 22,38
Fulham 23,02
Cardiff 23,33

Image result for ryan babel fulham

The system in which Babel was thriving at Beşiktaş was one with four attackers but Fulham are mostly using three in the front. Claudio Ranieri is still trying to find the right mix between Ryan Sessegnon, André Schürrle and Aboubakar Kamara in either side of Aleksandar Mitrović. They all find the net every now and then, but for Fulham, the problem is more about creating than about converting. If Ryan Babel manages to be the “enabler” guy as he was in Beşiktaş, the one making spaces and enabling Anderson Talisca and Cenk Tosun to find spaces, there could be hope for Fulham.

Team Goals xG Difference
Crystal Palace 20 25,90 -5,9
Southampton 23 27,47 -4,47
Cardiff 19 23,33 -4,33
Wolves 23 27,25 -4,25
Newcastle 16 19,32 -3,32
Fulham 20 23,02 -3,02

Önder Özen is a current television pundit but before that, he served at two big Istanbul clubs, as an assistant to Zico at Fenerbahçe and a sporting director to Slaven Bilic at Beşiktaş. He coached Babel during his brief head coaching stint at Kasımpaşa and would later command the Dutchman as one of the better professionals he worked with, much to his surprise. With his carefree social media presence, his ever-changing hairstyles and cool goal celebrations, it is easy to mistake him for a maverick. And indeed, sometimes he is one. In the last six months, he openly criticized Beşiktaş’s Twitter account for not sharing the videos from his YouTube channel, entered into a couple of online arguments with the club’s fans, even using profanity. Last month, when he was still out of the squad due to this feud, he celebrated his birthday by posting a video, which was soundtracked by all the critics dismissing him.

That is Ryan Babel for you. At his worst, you have a mutiny on your hand. At his best, he will score goals and make things better for everyone around him. The fine line between the two is usually all about support from around – the coach, teammates and the fans.

After all, he doesn’t like to do things by himself.

Çetin Cem Yılmaz

Read more from Cetin here

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Besiktas 3-1 Feyenoord

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WEDNESDAY 6TH AUGUST

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

Besiktas-Feyenoord

BEŞIKTAŞ 3 – 1 FEYENOORD

A goal from Feyenoord substitute Elvis Manu was not enough for Feyenoord after they were knocked out of the Champions League following a poor performance in the Turkish capital this evening with two Beşiktaş goals coming from defensive errors reports Ryan O’Grady.

After the disappointing 2-1 defeat in the home leg of this tie, Fred Rutten’s side knew that they would have to win by 2 goals to progress or even just match the previous result to send the tie to extra-time.

Before Besiktas’ first goal on 28 minutes, Feyenoord actually had more possession and most of the game was played around the halfway line if not more in the Turkish side’s half. However even with this territorial advantage Feyenoord barely created anything, the only shot on target was from Mitchell te Vrede but it was correctly ruled out for offside. Both Boëtius and Schaken were very involved in the build up play for Feyenoord but neither could deliver a telling cross to create a chance for te Vrede.

The near-capacity crowd in Istanbul roared their team on throughout the game and were rewarded in the 28th minute when van Beek dawdled on the ball and was dispossessed by Pektemek, who ran into the box before squaring for Demba Ba, who was making his first professional appearance in Besiktas. His initial shot was well blocked and both players fell to the floor and in the ensuing melee Ba somehow managed to knock the ball in with his calf sending the home crowd in raptures. The goal was followed by a 10-minute period where the home side dominated the game creating chances and forcing errors. This ended when Boëtius broke clear for Feyenoord but was stopped by Gülüm, there was certainly a shout for a free kick, which had it been given would’ve almost meant a red card for the Turkish defender as he was the last man. Another man who was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch was Feyenoord’s Miquel Nelom who was arguably the worst player on the pitch repeatedly being dispossessed and given the ball away with wayward passes. He was booked in the 33rd minute for a challenge on Demba Ba, which was a fair decision by the referee. This was followed by another challenge in the 44th minute, this time on former Fulham man Kerim Frei who knocked the ball past Nelom and was clearly blocked off.

Immediately after the interval Feyenoord had a couple oh half-chances including an over hit cross from Schaken which nearly went in. In the 56th minute Rutten changed his system, he brought off the ineffective te Vrede and Nelom for midfielder Vormer and striker Manu. This led to a switch from 4-3-3 to a hopefully more attacking 3-4-3. Then in the 69th minute Jordy Clasie, Feyenoord’s captain, had to go off after stupidly taking a shot long after the whistle had been blown for a foul and appearing to have possibly pulled his calf muscle. He was replaced by Karsdorp who didn’t have a great game when he came on nearly costing Feyenoord a goal. Then substitute Manu struck in the 73rd minute to give the travelling Dutch supporters a ray of hope. A long ball out from the defence was latched onto by Elvis Manu who superbly knocked it over the top of the defender before stretching a leg out to poke it past the goalkeeper. Suddenly it looked as if Feyenoord would get themselves back in the game. From a corner that was poorly dealt with by the goalkeeper, Vormer knocked it just wide and Immers had a shot from the edge of the box as well which was easily stopped by the goalkeeper. However this period of attack from Feyenoord was abruptly cut short after Demba Ba knocked in another goal from close range. Olcay Sahan received the ball on the edge of the box and with his first touch knocked it past Mathijsen before cutting back inside past Van Beek at the edge of the six-yard box and then squared it to Ba who had a tap-in.  This dampened the Feyenoord spirits and they never recovered. The win was finished off in the 85th minute when Kongolo tried to pass it back to the goalkeeper but it was intercepted by Ba who went past the goalkeeper and slotted home to complete his hat-trick and thoroughly endear himself to the home crowd.

Feyenoord will be hoping they can recover from this damaging defeat in time for their opening game of the Eredivisie season away to ADO Den Haag. They will also be hoping that this elimination will not encourage yet more stars from last season to depart.

TEAMS

BESIKTAS: Zengin, Gülüm, Ramon, Franco, Hutchinson, Kavlak, Şahan, Uysal, Frei (Köybaşi 74), Ba (Tosun 87), Pektemek (Özyakup 85).

GOALS: Ba 28, 80 & 86.

BOOKINGS: Uysal 22, Gülüm 71.

FEYENOORD: Mulder, Mathijsen, Nelom (Vormer 58), Kongolo, van Beek, Immers, Clasie (Karsdorp 69), Vilhena, Schaken, te Vrede (Manu 57), Boëtius.

GOALS: Manu 74.

BOOKINGS: Nelom 33, Boëtius 37, Schaken 67.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Besiktas vs. Feyenoord

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WEDNESDAY 6TH AUGUST

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG

Besiktas-Feyenoord

BEŞIKTAŞ vs. FEYENOORD (18:30 BST)

The Eredivisie campaign may be a days away but Feyenoord’s season is already underway as the club is bidding to reach the Champions League group stages by overcoming Turkey’s Beşiktaş in the Champions League third round second leg. The Dutch club are facing an uphill task to overcome Slaven Bilic’s men after losing 1-2 in the first leg at the Feijenoord Stadion last Wednesday.

Despite Holland’s successful World Cup campaign, Feyenoord have been the club affected by the national teams success as manager Louis Van Gaal’s defensive trio of Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij have all moved onwards and left the club after some incredible defensive performances to help The Netherlands finish third in the tournament. Fred Rutten has a much larger task in replacing Italian goal-getter Graziano Pellé who left for Southampton in July. In recent weeks, midfield dynamo Jordy Clasie has been linked with moves to Manchester United since Van Gaal has taken over at Old Trafford. Despite the losses of key defenders, Rutten can call upon experienced international defenders in Joris Mathijsen and former-Chelsea defender, Khalid Boulahrouz. Terence Kongolo (the older brother of Manchester City academy player Rodney) is expected to start at left-back as Rutten attempts to overcome last week’s defeat 1-2, and qualify Feyenoord for the group stages for the first time since 2008.

Beşiktaş are looking to reach the group stages of the Champions League with new signing Demba Ba, whose £7million move from Chelsea shocked many in the footballing world including those most loyal to the Turkish outfit. Bilic’s men are looking to withhold Feyenoord’s attacking threat as his side have to defend a one goal lead after Mitchell Te Vrede’s last minute penalty halved the deficit and handed Feyenoord an incentive despite having a two goal advantage.

Demba Ba isn’t the team’s only threat as Dutch-born midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup is making quite a name for himself with some majestic performances both domestically and in Europe for Beşiktaş. Ozyakup’s creative awareness and Demba Ba’s phenomenal goal scoring record will give Feyenoord boss, Fred Rutten, an extra worry in attack as his side will be weary of leaving too much space at the back.

John Guidetti is being heavily linked with a return to Feyenoord, in recent times, after a successful loan spell in 2011/2012 that seen him reach heroic status when the Swede famously scored a hat-trick against bitter rivals, Ajax.

There is no denying that Rutten’s task of overcoming last week’s defeat is going to be extremely difficult when he takes his side to Istanbul and the hostile Inonu stadium. Bilic’s Beşiktaş have become quite a force since the Croatian’s appointment to the hot-seat in 2013. Having previously created an enormous reputation whilst manager of Croatia he has seen his side’s lose only on rare occasions no side will want to face the Turkish outfit should they advance to the group-stages. The current set up in Turkey has seen his side labelled ‘Dortmund Like’ in recent weeks because of their lightening fast build-up play.

Bet Victor are offering 10/1 for a Besiktas 2-0 win and that is my prediction for this one unfortunately. My bias opinion would love to see the Rotterdammers advance to the group-stages of the Champions League but last week’s defeat and the electric pace in the Beşiktaş side, sadly I feel we will probably see the Dutch side crash out in Istanbul.

TIP: Beşiktaş to win 2-0 (10/1 – Bet Victor) – Click here to join Bet Victor and claim up to £25 in free bets!!!

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Feyenoord 1-2 Besiktas

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WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

Feyenoord-Besiktas

FEYENOORD 1 – 2 BEŞIKTAŞ

A late penalty gave Feyenoord a major lifeline in the Champions League qualifying tie with Beşiktaş after failing to impress in the 2-1 defeat inside De Kuip this evening.

Feyenoord, Besiktas, Erwin Mulder, Feyenoord - Besiktas

It was a very unfamiliar side fielded by Fred Rutten, heavily depleted from this summer’s transfers. Ruben Schaken moved into the unusual right-back position with youngster Sven van Beek partnering veteran Joris Mathijsen in the centre. Dutch international Terence Kongolo began on the left of defence with Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena protecting the back four, and Lex Immers pressing on. Jean-Paul Boetuis and Wesley Verhoek appeared on the wings giving support to inexperienced front-man Mitchell te Vrede.

Feyenoord, roared on by 50,000 Rotterdammers, exploded out the blocks and attacked the boys from Istanbul from the off, however, failed to create any decent chances. In fact, their first shot on goal did not arrive until three minutes before half-time, and it was a poor effort by Boëtius who dragged his shot wide of the target.

After it being all the home side for the first 13 minutes, the Turkish side got the opening goal from a corner on 13 minutes. The set-piece was whipped in and some terrible marking by Mathijsen allowed Mustafa Pektemek to rise above and head home to grab a vital away goal.

Throughout the first 45 minutes, Feyenoord struggled to break down Beşiktaş, the team who kept the most clean sheets in the Turkish top flight last season. The visitors looked in shape and well prepared by coach Slaven Bilic and pressed Feyenoord back, as De Kuip became frustrated and the game develop into a scrappy affair. With four bookings pulled out of Italian referee Luca Banti’s pocket in an uneventful first half.

After the interval, it was more of the same and inside the final twenty minutes the Turkish side wrapped up the victory. The impressive Kerim Koyunlu sprinted down the right wing unmarked and emerged into the area. He lashed a shot towards goal that goalkeeper Mulder looked to have covered but unfortunately it took a wicked deflection off substitute Khalid Boulahrouz and into the net.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of the crowd but gave Feyenoord a little life. However, they started to press more and gained some success forcing saves out of Tolga Zengin. But it was late on where the home supporters got a little relief.

The Feyenoord fans went home a tad happier after Ramon Motta conceded a penalty for a foul on tricky substitute Elvis Manu three minutes into stoppage time. Young striker Mitchell te Vrede converted the spot kick to give Beşiktaş a slender lead into the second leg next Wednesday night.

TEAMS

FEYENOORD: Mulder, Schaken (Boulahrouz 61), Van Beek, Mathijsen, Kongolo, Clasie, Immers, Vilhena, Verhoek (Manu 65), Te Vrede, Boëtius.

SUBS NOT USED: Hahn, Vormer, Nelom, Karsdorp, Achahbar.

GOALS: Te Verde 90+4P.

BOOKINGS: Verhoek 31, Boëtius 39.

BESIKTAS: Zengin, Kurtulus, Franco, Gülüm, Motta, Koyunlu (Cenk Tosun 89), Uysal, Özyakup (Ba 59), Hutchinson, Şahan (Ismail Koybasi 75), Pektemek.

SUBS NOT USED: Cenk Gonen, Sivok, Boral, Holosko.

GOALS: Pektemek 13, Koyunlu 71.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PREVIEW: Feyenoord vs. Besiktas

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WEDNESDAY 30TH JULY

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG

Feyenoord-Besiktas

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.

At Bet Victor, Beşiktaş to come away from De Kuip with a win is being offered at massive 5/2, this is our best bet for this Champions League clash.

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Feyenoord’s Champions League opponents – Besiktas

Beşiktaş and Feyenoord are similar in more ways than one. Both sides have few league titles in the 21st century and both teams have been absent from the Champions League for an extended period of time writes Yusuf Naishi.

Both droughts are less devastating in the case of Beşiktaş although Feyenoord manages to retain some pride in that they beat Borussia Dortmund in 2002’s UEFA Cup final at home in De Kuip stadium.

Beşiktaş are coming off their first season under the leadership of Slaven Bilić. The Croatian has extended his influence over the team with transfers and a new tactical system, described by Sinan Schwarting of Besiktas-international.com as ‘Dortmund-like.’

Bilić managed to bring long time Trabzon goalkeeper Tolga Zengin to Istanbul. Beşiktaş have lacked a consistent keeper in recent times and Zengin had an excellent campaign this past season and led in clean sheets.  Zengin provides a tough challenge for any opposition as long as the players in front of him also do their jobs.

Beşiktaş has also been building up young talent. Although Bilić has opted to play them sparingly several youngsters appear ready to reach the big time.

Oğuzhan Özyakup, whom some in the Netherlands may remember as a Dutch international at youth level, has the experience and talent to lead the midfield this season. He will be expected to fill bigger shoes, however, now that Manuel Fernandes has left for the Russian league. Fernandes was an excellent number 10 for Beşiktaş’s even as he broke down opposition defences in his humble number 4 shirt.

Departing attacker Hugo Almeida scored a respectable 13 goals over 31 matches last season but he suffered several scoring droughts and did not have many other teammates to make up for those goalless spells. Thus, if Beşiktaş had any reason to make a transfer this summer it would be to bring in a striker.

That is exactly what the board of directors have done in bringing Demba Ba from Chelsea to Turkey. Although the Senegalese forward disappointed many in his time in London, his goal-scoring ability is unquestionable as his record at Newcastle United shows.

Ba can expect acceptable partnerships in front of goal 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 Canadian international Atiba Hutchinson play with Özyakup in the centre of midfield with Olcay Şahan playing advanced in midfield.

But what fans dressed in red and white are wondering is if Beşiktaş can prevent them from their first Champion’s League campaign since 2001.

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