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Besiktas enjoying Champions League campaign

Thursday 19th October 2017
Nearly everyone dismissed Besiktas immediately after being drawn alongside RB Leipzig, FC Porto and AS Monaco in the Champions League. But after three games, the Black Eagles sit top of the pile on nine points.
Clearly, Galatasaray is the standout team in the Turkish Super Lig this season. Still unbeaten after eight games, the Yellow-Reds have crushed most sides standing in their way. In terms of goals, they've recorded the highest amount with 20 - averaging almost three per game. More impressive is the discipline at the back: conceding only six times - the fewest in the league.

Igor Tudor's side may seem spectacular domestically, however, they have a tendency to fumble on the continent. Having finished fourth last term in Super Lig, Galatasaray reached Europa League second qualifying round, only to be sent packing by Swedish debutants, Ostersund. A sharp contrast is city rivals, Besiktas; a club shining on the European stage.

Although Gala remain the most successful Turkish side in history, it is Besiktas that has dominated recently, winning Super Lig title last two seasons. The reigning champions are struggling of late though, currently eighth in the table, nine points adrift of their neighbours.

In contrast, Besiktas has been flawless in this season's Champions League, picking up three consecutive victories. The first Turkish side ever to achieve that feat. It's a record that should delight the club's manager, Senol Gunes.

Galatasaray may grab consolation from its past successes, however, the same isn't true for the Black Eagles. They have had to watch on in dismay as their fierce rivals clinched two European titles (1999/2000 UEFA Cup, followed by UEFA Super Cup). Besiktas, on the other hand, has managed three quarter-final appearances but is still searching for its first major honour in Europe. Perhaps that extra motivation is responsible for the phenomenal Champions League run.
It all began with an unbelievable 3-1 victory away at FC Porto in September. Talisca, Cenk Tosun and Ryan Babel the scorers. Besiktas were dominant; Porto's only strike came courtesy of Dusko Tosic's own goal. Next came the clash with Germany's surprise package, RB Leipzig, at the Vodafone Park. Babel and Talisca found the net once again as the Black Eagles emerged victorious, 2-0.

The Turkish side saved the most impressive display until most recently when they travelled to face last season's semi-finalists, Monaco on Tuesday night. Radamel Falcao gave the hosts the lead in the 30th minute after running onto Balde Keita's well-timed pass. Monaco's lead was short-lived though, as three minutes later weak defending allowed Ricardo Quaresma space to ping an accurate cross - Cenk Tosun connected with a close-range header to equalise for the Turkish visitors. Nine minutes into the second half, the forward struck once more, which proved enough to secure all three points.
As things stand, Besiktas is in pole position to advance to the knockout stages. With two of the remaining three games taking place on home soil, the Black Eagles will only have themselves to blame should they fail to progress to the Champions League last 16.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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