Besiktas vs Galatasaray Preview – Will the Black Eagles win their first major derby at the Vodafone Park?
Besiktas are flying high. Success on and off the pitch. Back to back league titles, the first Turkish side to book a place in the Champions League Last 16 as group leaders and a growing global presence.
Two stats stand out for Besiktas heading into the Galatasaray derby. There are unbeaten at home since their new stadium was inaugurated in 2015 but have yet to win a derby game at the Vodafone Park.
Besiktas have been a tale of two sides this season. The Istanbul giants breezed through their Champions League group, avoiding defeat and securing a first place spot with a game to spare – an achievement that only Manchester City have matched this season.
The Eagles have however, been struggling domestically. Besiktas have won just three games in their last 10 games. Senol Gunes’ side have not been playing poorly. The reason behind their lack of wins is not losses but draws.
Super Lig sides are simply parking the bus whenever Besiktas come to town and they have been struggling to unlock defences.
Talk of a crisis is just your usual Turkish hyperbole. Just a fortnight ago Galatasaray fans were demanding Igor Tudor be sacked… despite being in first position!
Besiktas have been going through teething problems adjusting to becoming a Champions League side. They have struggled in games prior to and after the elite European competition.
Fortunately for head coach Senol Gunes the Match Day 6 clash against Red Bull Leipzig is a mere formality.
Gunes does not need to have one eye on the Champions League as they will go through as leaders regardless of what happens.
Besiktas will be without Caner Erkin due to suspension – an absence that has proven to be a blessing in disguise. Adriano will likely start in his absence. Pepe has recovered and is expected to get the nod in defence alongside Dusko Tosic. The right-back position will be occupied by Gokhan Gonul.
Alvardo Negredo scored four while Jeremain Lens bagged a hat-trick and provided three assists in the Turkish Cup mid-week.
Gunes is however, likely to keep with his trusted line of attack. Anderson Talisca as attacking midfielder, Ryan Babel and Quaresma out wide and Cenk Tosun upfront.
Negredo and Lens being in form will put a smile on Gunes’ face. It gives him options.
The central midfield is likely to star Toglay Arslan and Atiba Hutchinson although Oguzhan Ozyakup remains in contention.
Galatasaray are first in the Super Lig but you would never think it.
There is a strange atmosphere in the Lions camp. Nobody can quite believe they are leaders and nobody knows quite what to make of Igor Tudor.
The Croatian manager deserves credit for building the side he set out to. A physical, hard-working no nonsense side that have simply been too hot to handle.
The problem however, is Tudor’s record in derby games. Galatasaray failed to beat Fenerbahce – hardly a poor result – but were hammered 5-1 against Basaksehir.
The fans demanded Tudor’s head after the heavy defeat but it was an overreaction. Sacking a manager that has guided a team to first place would be looney.
Tudor has shown an ineptitude in big games so far but he does lack experience.
Denayer and Cigerci are doubts with minor injuries but Serdar Aziz and Feghouli return from suspension.
Bafetimbi Gomis is certain to start upfront, the former Swansea man has 13 goals in 13 games this season.
The back four is expected to featuer Mariano, Maicon, Aziz and Linnes.
Former Manchester City midfielder Fernando will protect the defence alongside Ndiaye.
Fehgouli, Belhanda and Rodriguese are likely to feature behind Gomis.
The Lions are all about raw power and that has been enough to blow away most opposition in the league but the question is will it work against Besiktas?
Gunes is a brilliant tactician and has years of experience under his belt. Besiktas play technical, fast placed football. Tudor decided to play defensive against Fenerbahce and it would not be a surprise for him to do the same against the Eagles following their defeat in the last derby against Basaksehir.
A Galatasaray win would open up a nine point gap with Besiktas. Meanwhile a defeat would blow the title race wide open. Rarely are derby games in the first half of the season as pivotal as this one will be.
It will all come down to a tale of two Tudor’s. The ex Juventus defender has done a great job. Galatasaray are leaders. But he has been lambasted for his management in derby games.
Prediction: Besiktas Draw No Bet (-0 Asian Handicap)