Preview: Lyon v Besiktas – Will wounded Black Eagles still be able to fly?
Besiktas take on Lyon in the Europa League quarter-final clash in France tonight.
The Black Eagles are the only domestic champions left in the competition and head into tie in great form.
Besiktas are first in the league and are coming off the back of a 4-3 away victory over rivals Trabzonspor – who were unbeaten in 2017.
The Eagles do head into the Lyon clash wounded. Vincent Aboubakar is suspended after deciding to head butt an Olympiakos player in the last round.
Luckily Besiktas have 21-goal strike Cenk Tosun available.
Aboubakar’s sending off does however, highlight a vulnerability of this Besiktas side who have lacked discipline.
Besiktas imploded in the final Champions League group stage game against Dynamo Kiev.
The Eagles were unbeaten and had a great chance of progression until their meltdown against the Ukrainians which saw two players sent off.
Besiktas will also be without star winger Ricardo Quaresma due to injury.
The absence of the 2016 European Championship winner will be a blow but Anderson Talisca and Ryan Babel will be available.
Former Barcelona man Adriano is likely to be pushed up from his usual full-back role into an attacking wide position.
Besiktas are a formidable force going forwards with Oguzhan Ozyakup offering creativity from deep and the fantastic four which usually constitutes Quaresman, Babel, Talisca and Tosun offering a goal scoring threat.
The Eagles do however, have problems in defence which could prove disastrous against Lyon’s in form striker Lacazette.
Besiktas are not favourites but they weren’t favourites against Napoli or Benfica either. The Eagles became the first side to record a Champions League victory against Napoli at home this season. Senol Gunes’ boys also managed to force a 3-3 draw against Benfica after conceding the first three goals.
The Istanbul giants have proven to be dangerous underdogs who never know when they are beaten. If Lyon underestimate Besiktas they could be in for quite a shock. And if their shock 4-1 defeat against Ligue 1 strugglers Lorient is anything to go by, the French giants have a tendency to underestimate their opposition at times.
Eagles head coach Gunes is vastly experienced and has installed a never say die attitude in his team. Passion and grit are stereotypically associated with Turkish sides playing in Europe but the main difference here is that Besiktas have genuinely talented players and play a flamboyant attacking style.
Prediction: Besiktas Draw/Win Double Chance
Lyon: Lopes, Rafael, Kiakhaby, Mammana, Jallet, Tousart, Tolisso, Valbuena, Nabil Fekir, Ghezzal, Lacazette
Besiktas: Fabri, Gonul, Marcelo, Tosic, Beck, Ozyakup, Atiba, Talisca, Adriano, Cenk Tosun, Babel