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ONE OF the most glo­ri­ous days in Turk­ish foot­ball, Beşik­taş beat Porto in a de­ci­sive away game last Wed­nes­day. From the first to the fi­nal whis­tle, the Turk­ish side was in con­trol of the game, and Porto could not es­tab­lish dom­i­nance to break through Beşik­taş’s counter-at­tack­ing game.

As I pointed out be­fore the game, in­di­vid­ual tal­ents made the dif­fer­ence, and Ri­cardo Quaresma’s great as­sist to An­der­son Talisca and Cenk To­sun’s guided mis­sile from 30 me­ters put Beşik­taş in a one goal lead be­fore the first half whis­tle. Then, un­like pre­dic­tions, Porto could not gear up their game and even­tu­ally dropped out of the game, which led to Beşik­taş’s third goal as a re­sult of great team­work.

First of all, I did not ex­pect Porto to be so un­pre­pared against Beşik­taş’s con­trolled counter-at­tack­ing game. They could not find a way to open up Beşik­taş’s de­fense and their im­bal­anced of­fen­sive strat­egy, which was based on catch­ing their op­po­nents of­f­guard, col­lapsed within the first 20 min­utes.

The rea­son why Porto could not have played their orig­i­nal quick counter-at­tack­ing game was sim­ple, Beşik­taş coach Şenol Güneş pre­pared his team to de­fend with six men, who were or­dered not to leave their po­si­tions no mat­ter what. Thus, when­ever Porto at­tacked in a pre­ma­ture man­ner, they crashed into the huge wall Güneş built against them. If, as I ad­vised in my last piece, they had cho­sen a dom­i­nant strat­egy, Beşik­taş would have been forced to de­fend with 10 play­ers, ul­ti­mately de­stroy­ing the Turk­ish side’s of­fen­sive ef­fi­ciency.

On the other hand, I salute Beşik­taş’s four for­ward play­ers, Ryan Ba­bel, An­der­son Talisca, Cenk To­sun and Ri­cardo Quaresma. They uti­lized the space Porto left for them in­cred­i­bly ef­fi­ciently, and their choices were mostly spot on. As Oğuzhan Özyakup and Atiba Hutchin­son in front of the de­fense, and cen­ter-back Pepe, con­stantly sent the ball for­ward with­out los­ing time, Porto’s de­fense was forced to sit deep. The Por­tuguese side did not un­der­stand that they had to fight fire with fire.

Nev­er­the­less, al­though Beşik­taş showed a great de­fen­sive and of­fen­sive ef­fort against Porto, I am not com­pletely sat­is­fied with the game they played, con­sid­er­ing the rest of the group stage. Be­tween 30th and 60th min­utes, Beşik­taş made lots of un­nec­es­sary long balls when they should have stayed more in con­trol. By that time, the team had spent so much en­ergy on de­fend­ing fiercely and at­tack­ing quickly that af­ter the first 30 min­utes they needed a pe­riod of mun­dane pass­ing cir­cu­la­tions around the mid­dle. Rather, they sent every long ball for­ward into the Porto de­fense to cre­ate of­fen­sive con­ti­nu­ity, but the Por­tuguese lead­ers re­fused this gen­er­ous of­fer given they were shocked by the per­for­mance of Beşik­taş.

How­ever, in or­der to as­sure long-term suc­cess, coach Şenol Güneş must in­te­grate this pool of in­di­vid­ual tal­ent into a more tal­ented game. The days will come where in­di­vid­ual tal­ent will not work or op­po­nents will not let them work, it is the most nat­u­ral process in foot­ball. But what makes a team truly suc­cess­ful is the abil­ity to take them­selves out of this tough sit­u­a­tion by the means of their game. As I have al­ways said, Beşik­taş must rely on the power of their col­lec­tive ac­tion first, and Ri­cardo Quaresma’s feet sec­ond.

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