The match we have all been waiting for has finally arrived: tomorrow Beşiktaş J.K. will challenge the German record champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in their first match in the Champions League round of 16. For Bayern, the forward momentum launched under Jupp Heynckes’s stewardship has finally brought the team to the critical matches. If all goes according to plan, Bayern Munich will hammer the reigning Super Lig champions with everything they’ve got.
All-out attack by a full, well-rested squad
Bayern Munich clawed its way back to victory over a defiant Wolfsburg this past Saturday while fielding an almost completely rotated squad. Of the ten field players who started that match, only Javi Martinez—who played as center-back—seems all but guaranteed to start.
Here is one almost entirely fresh lineup that Jupp Heynckes may field to greet Bayern’s Turkish guests:
In this scenario, Javi Martinez returns to his usual position just ahead of Bayern’s center-backs, the World-Cup-winning tandem of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, while David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich start fresh on the outside.
The offense is where Heynckes has difficult decisions. Given his predilection for starting James Rodriguez and Thomas Müller together, and the fireworks that combination has produced for this team, a 4-1-4-1 system that enables both of them to play together seems probable.
Both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery played on Saturday, Robben going the full 90 minutes. Robben may have single-handedly produced both plays that led to Bayern's victory over Wolfsburg, but he struggled for most of the match and seems to be running after his form. Ribery meanwhile has had better success recently, but his performances have also been suboptimal.
For this game, Heynckes may unleash Kingsley Coman on Beşiktaş defense, while Thomas Müller can run rampant on the right side of the pitch. Lewandowski will be ready.
Beşiktaş: Champions League underdogs that bite
Heynckes had ample praise for Beşiktaş in his pre-match press conference. In particular, Heynckes argues, Beşiktaş’s “secret is its coach,” Şenol Güneş:
He is not yet as old as me, but already 65. A very experienced man, an absolute top-coach, who understands how to bring a team together as a unit. Beşiktaş is physically very strong, plays really good soccer, has a well-structured defense, and can counter. I’m not saying that just to give compliments; it’s really true!
Beşiktaş’s back four is anchored by Real Madrid and Portugal legend Pepe and ambidextrous former-Barcelona fullback Adriano. Here is how their squad is likely to line up in Munich:
Beşiktaş generally line up in a 4-2-3-1 and play a strong brand of attacking soccer. Although currently in 4th place in the Super Lig, they are only 5 points behind the leader, İstanbul Başakşehir (46 vs 41 points). While all four top teams in the Super Lig have a goal difference of +20, Beşiktaş has had the misfortune of drawing 8 times, while losing only 3. The reigning Turkish champs are thus very much still contenders for their domestic championship.
The club notably sold its then-best goalscorer Cenc Tosun to Evenerton shortly after their draw against Bayern Munich was announced. Although Bayern fans greeted the news, there has been virtually no drop-off in offensive production from Beşiktaş. Now Anderson Talisca leads the team across competitions (14 goals), followed closely by his battery mates Alvaro Negredo and Ryan Babel.