5 reasons why Besiktas are dark horses in the Champions League
UEFA Champions League action resumed on Tuesday with two more teams securing their place among 16 teams to play in the second round. PSG, Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Manchester City were joined by Real Madrid and Besiktas.
The Turkish side have picked up three wins and two draws from their five games and qualified for the knockout stages.
Winning it all might be too hard of a task for Senol Gunes' men, but they could cause trouble to all the big teams and might go quite far. Here are five reasons why.
#5 Squad depth
The Turkish teams have always been unpredictable in Europe. They blow hot and cold, capable of playing very good football and beating some really good teams some days, but losing heavily on other nights.
Besiktas were pretty close to qualifying last year as well, but their campaign ended on a drab note. They played Dynamo Kiev away from home in the final round and ended up losing 6-0 to a side that had scored only two goals in the previous five outings. Besiktas finished with seven points, one less than Benfica, who finished runners-up in the group.
A year later, the team has learned its lessons from the failure in Ukraine and has come back stronger mentally, while also boasting a better squad.
Gunes added Pepe, Gary Medel, Alvaro Negredo and Jeremain Lens to the mix during the summer transfer window. All are proven internationals, who have played at a very high level. Pepe has three Champions League wins to his name, Medel has been a vital part of a successful Chile side, Negredo's been a prolific goalscorer in top European leagues and Lens has been an outstanding player wherever he's been. Plus a World Cup bronze winner from 2014.
All, but Pepe, aren't even regulars for Besiktas this season, which shows their depth well. In previous transfer windows, the club has added the likes of Adriano, a two-time Champions League winner, and Ryan Babel to the side. Gunes has a very good squad at his disposal.
Also, the well-known players aren't just washed up talents. For example, Babel has four goals and two assists to his name in the Turkish league and two goals and one assist in Europe.