This was 2015, Beşiktaş edition

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Updated: December 31, 2015

While we have already gone in to the final 24 hours of the year 2015, we wanted to wish all Black Eagles fans a happy and successful 2016!

At the same time we wanted to take a look at all the aspects of the past year, both the good and the bad.

Beşiktaş started the year 2015 under Slaven Bilic  in second position with 38 points from 17 matches, the best result since the 2003-2004 season in which they gained 43 points from the same amount of matches under Mircea Lucescu. While they had also won their respective UEFA Europa League group, finishing first ahead of Tottenham Hotspur and drawing Liverpool FC in the round of 32.

2015 started off well with 3 consecutive victories over Mersin, Rizespor and Bursaspor in the league. But the Black Eagles were also knocked out of the Turkish cup by Kayserispor, after a 1-0 defeat at the Kadir Has stadium on the 11th of February. While on top of the league rankings after matchday 20 the Black Eagles then went on to suffer a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Eskişehirspor on the 22nd of February with coach Slaven Bilic resting four key players. Bilic was clearly focussed more on the clash with Liverpool that following week and decided to leave topscorer Demba Ba (who had a slight injury but could have played) in Istanbul while starting Gökhan Töre, Atiba Hutchinson and Tolgay Arslan all on the bench. This was the start of strong critisism at the adress of Slaven Bilic and perhaps where he made his first big error in regards to losing the Championship race. Going in to Eskişehir, which is always a difficult away game, with a B team while you’re at the top of the table and in a 3 horse title race is somethingw hich many fans did not take kindly to.

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Beşiktaş faced the club, which had humiliated them 8 years earlier by trashing them 8-0 at Anfield during the 2007-2008 edition of the UEFA Champions League group stages, Liverpool FC. After having already faced both Arsenal and Tottenham prior in the season and putting in four solid performances the Black Eagles were ever confident that they could reclaim their honour by knocking the Reds out of the Europa League tournament. The double confrontation started with an away game to Anfield, which was lost due to a penalty foul from Ramon Motta in the 85th minute, which Mario Balotelli converted from the spot. An undeserved win as the Black Eagles had had the best of the chances in this match, but Demba Ba could not get past Simon Mignolet this time.

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Tolgay’s stunning strike took the game to extra time and penalties, in which the Black Eagles would come out on top.

Having rested several of his key players against Eskişehirspor did prove useful however as the return took place on the 26th of February at the Atatürk Olimpiyat stadium, the same stadium where Liverpool famously beat AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final. The Reds were confident that they would taste European glory again at the Olimpiyat but that was without the say of Slaven Bilic and his troops. From the first till the final whistle the Black Eagles pushed Liverpool back and ultimately found their goal in the second half, a fabulous strike from just outside the box from Tolgay Arslan which brought the fans to the edge of their seats. Demba Ba nearly finished off Liverpool, but the bar saved them in second half stoppage time. Ultimately penalties would prove to decide over the clash and while Demba Ba, Gökhan Töre, Veli Kavlak, Atiba Hutchinson and Tolgay ARslan all converted their spotkicks, Liverpool’s Lovren missed his, the deciding, fifth penalty for Liverpool which resulted in a true delirium at the Atatürk Olimipyat stadium for both the players and the fans alike.

Beşiktaş coach Slaven Bilic said: “It’s a great feeling. It’s a great night for our great club, for Besiktas. For Turkish football as well.

“We definitely deserve it and we are so proud of our players.”

A slippery downward slope…

But the triumph over Liverpool came at a price, Slaven Bilic has put all his poker chips in one basket in  an attempt to further impress possible Premier League suitors by knocking out the Reds. After already having impressed against Arsenal and Tottenham earlier in the season, his name ended up on the shortlist of many Premier League clubs looking for a new coach and ultimately this would also prove the route he would be going in. However, there was nearly half a season left to be played, but after the Liverpool matches the season took a turn for the worst.

The following weekend the Black Eagles faced Balikesirspor, the bottom team in the league. After the low of the defeat in Eskişehir and the high of seeing off Liverpool there was another low for Beşiktaş  as they drew 2-2 to lowest ranked team in the league. A loss of points which an aspiring Chamipon could not afford itself, especially at home.

Beşiktaş rebounded the next weekend with an important 1-0 away victory over Sivasspor before their first of a double confrontation with Club Brugge in the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League.

After the qualifying from the round of 32 the Beşiktaş board was thrilled to get paired with Club Brugge in the Europa League as they saw this as almost a sure victory for the Black Eagles. But nothing is a sure thing in football as they would end up finding out.

The first confrontation with Club Brugge in Belgium ended up in a 2-1 defeat, despite dominating the first hour or so and even taking the lead in the 46th minute, thanks to a classy Gökhan Töre strike. Beşiktaş failed several times to kill off the match on the break as they had some good opportunities and Club Brugge ultimately got back in to the game in the 62nd minute when Tom De Sutter deflected a shot from Gedoz in goal. It truely was a goal out of nowhere, as up until that point the Black Eagles were firmly in control, this goal however gave the hosts newborn hope and they pressed Beşiktaş back and were awarded a penalty kick in the 79th minute, which completed the turnaround and sent the Eagles home with a defeat but still an interesting away result. As everyone was confident after the match in Brugge that this scoreline would not pose a problem, afterall we had just knocked out het mighty Liverpool, right? Unfortunately it couldn’t be further from the truth. This feeling over overconfidence was further fueled after a convincing win over Kayseri Erciyesspor on the weekend, 5-1.

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Tolga hanging his head in shame after making the wrong decision to stay on his line.

Witch Cenk Gönen making an unreliable impression in the away match, Slaven Bilic opted to put Tolga Zengin, who had just returned from an injury, back in goal. A decision which would later prove to be a huge mistake. After a cautious first half from both sides, Beşiktaş took the lead just after halftime with a stunning strike from leftback Ramon Motta from the edge of the area. His beauty deserved to go down in to history as the goal that would see the Black Eagles to the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Europa League but it wasn’t to be so as again Tom De Sutter proved to be a thorn in the Black Eagles’ side, after a seemingly hopeless deep ball which should have been easily gathered by goalkeeper Tolga Zengin. However for some reason Tolga decided to stay on his line instead of coming out to gather the loose ball while De Sutter was sprinting forward and leaving Pedro Franco in his trails, the Belgian forward then continued to beat Tolga and devastated the home crowd. All of a sudden Beşiktaş would have to score two more goals to avoid extra time. But the equalizer would prove to have a paralyzing effect on Beşiktaş and while the clock was ticking and a second goal seemed nowhere in sight, Brugge struck on the counter via the lightning fast Bolingoli in the 80th minute, this proved to be the straw the broke the camel’s back as ten minutes later Bolingoli added a second to his tally, further devastating the home crowd as the match ended in 1-3, Olcay could not keep his frustration in check and even got a direct red card.

And with what had been a fantastic European campaign thusfar was suddenly and unexpectedly ended ahead of a crucial derby match with Fenerbahçe at the Sükrü Saraçoglu stadium, that following weekend.

With Slaven Bilic having gotten the reputation of not being able to win derby matches at that point, as in his 1,5 years at the helm of Beşiktaş the best he had been able to muster were two draws and  adefeat against Fenerbhaçe and 3 defeats at the hands of Galatasaray. Coming off such a devastating European exit and having to go straight in to a difficult away game against one of the rivals for the league title… it was again a difficult obstacle that Bilic and the players were not able to pass.

Beşiktaş would end up losing 1-0 against Fenerbahçe, in what was a controversial match. Fenerbahçe played perhaps the weakest derby in recent memory against Beşiktaş but still managed to come out top, although referee Firat Aydinus certainly played his part. While the Fenerbahçe crowd turned against their striker Emannuel Emenike in the first half after missing a one on one opportunity with Günay Güvenç, who had replaced Tolga Zengin after 5 minutes due to an injury. While the fans were booing Emenike the Nigerian striker took off his shirt, threw it down and walked off the pitch without the referee’s permission. Instead of carding Emenike once for taking off his shirt and once again for walking off the pitch without permission, Aydinus decided to keep his cards in his pockets and paused the game while Emenike was furious on the sidelines before ultimately coming back on.

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Günay left in tears as Beşiktaş conceded a late goal against Fenerbahçe in added time.

In the second half, Fenerbahçe completely lost the plot and it was Beşiktaş who dominated possession and the run of play and even created several good chances but Demba, José Sosa and Oguzhan Özyakup could not get past goalkeeper Volkan. And as so often happens in football, if you don’t score your chances you end up regretting it later and that was proven true once again when Moussa Sow got on the end of a long ball in the 90th minute and with what was Fenerbahçe’s first and only chance of the second half, scored the undeserved 1-0 leaving young goalkeeper Günay Güvenç in tears. Ending matchday 25, with 9 games to go, in second place just one point behind leaders Galatasaray who had overtaken the Black Eagles.

But the following week there were again points to be lost as Beşiktaş could not get past Istanbul Başakşehir at ‘home’ in a match which would end 0-0 seeing Fenerbahçe overtake them in second place. All of a sudden Beşiktaş had gone from leaders in week 24 to being in third place and 3 points behind the leaders in week 26. Add to that the European exit and the nightmare was complete.

But the following week there was hope yet again when the Black Eagles trashed Kasimpaşa 5-1 at the Recep Tayyip Erdogan Stadium, overtaking leaders Galatasaray who had lost on the weekend, but still seeing Fenerbahçe 1 point clear at the top. With 8 games to go, Beşiktaş were still fully in the 3 horse title race. And thanks to an ultimate win against Karabükspor in the 95th minute with a Cenk Tosun header and a professional 2-0 away win against Trabzonspor we were entering the last straight line towards the Championship as joint leaders on with Galatasaray on matchday 29, having a better goal difference of +25 while Galatasaray had only +20.

But then once again a dissapointing home performance against Gaziantepspor would prove to take the momentum out of the title bid, this time it proved to be a permanent blow. As two weeks earlier the Black Eagles managed to get a last grasp victory against Karabükspor, this time that ultimate win didn’t come despite Cenk Tosun once again scoring deep in to second half stoppage time, but his goal was ruled offside, closing matchday 30 again in third position, because Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe did what Beşiktaş could not, win. The following weekend was again filled with dissapointment as Bilic & co could not get past Akhisar Belediyespor in Manisa, 1-1 at fulltime. A draw which once again proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back because with Galatasaray winning yet again the title seemed extremely far away with just 3 matches to go and a 4 point gap, Fenerbahçe not getting past a draw didn’t matter anymore at this point. The team had worked towards a long awaited championship but came up short in the final weeks. Some might say they simply choked and that was statement was reinforced on matchday 32 as Beşiktaş suffered a surprising home defeat against Torku Konyaspor due to a Gabriel Torje corner going straight in to the goal, a mistake by youngster Günay Güvenç. With the derby against Galatasaray at the Türk Telekom Arena now having lost all meaning the following week, given that Beşiktaş was now mathematically out of the title race being 7 points behind, another defeat more or less… who cares? While Slaven Bilic had received heavy critisism in the past weeks due to the dissapointing results against teams that Beşiktaş really should have been beating and also due to his defensive approach in the first half against Fenerbahçe several weeks prior, it had become clear that the Croatian would leave after the end of the season. With nothing left to lose we saw Slaven Bilic’s Beşiktaş for the first time in 2 years play an away derby with the intention to actually win it, in the end intent was not enough as Galatasaray won the match 2-0 but the score did not reflect this match propperly as Beşiktaş dominated the match from start to finish and the hosts had to rely on counter attacks while being pressed back almost the entire match. The display itself was something to be proud of, the result however wasn’t as thrilling. But why did Slaven Bilic not approach big games this way when things still mattered? Bilic always chose for ‘security’ and wanted to control the games but still ended up on the short end of the stick almost every single time in a big mach. With the exception of the home game against Tottenham and Liverpool, Beşiktaş had only managed to beat Trabzonspor in what could be considered “a big game” under Slaven Bilic. It certainly wasn’t all bad however, Bilic allowed players like Gökhan Töre, and for a while atleast, Pedro Franco to flourish. But others, like Oguzhan Özyakup were pushed to the side it seemed in favour of the “more experienced” José Sosa.

The final match of the 2014-2015 season against Gençlerbirligi was won as Slaven Bilic bid farewell to the club. While this text may make you remember all the bad decision which Bilic made, please let’s not forget the good things he did and also let us not forget that he did lay the foundation for the team today.

Farewell Slaven Bilic…

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Slaven Bilic leading his final üçlü chant with the fans at the airport.

With the implosion in the second half of the season the Beşiktaş board were forced to sit down with Slaven Bilic and they mutually decided that it had become time to part ways. Despite the fact that many fans still supported Bilic, some of the mistakes he had made in combination with his reputation of not being able to win big derby matches had sealed his faith. Of course Beşiktaş not being able to win a single derby in the Slaven Bilic era wasn’t completely his fault, it seemed as if Beşiktaş was always on the wrong end of the referee’s controversial decision and the team did have to cope with a lot of injuries in his two years at the club aswell. But in the summer of 2015 Slaven Bilic said goodbye to Beşiktaş after an emotional departure at the Atatürk airport, with thousands of Beşiktaş fans awaiting him to say goodbye , a truely touching moment and one that will not be soon forgotten.

Sunny days ahead of us

With the departure of Slaven Bilic, Beşiktaş were pressed to find themselves a new coach. With the new Vodafone arena scheduled to be completed somewhere during the 2015-2016 season, Beşiktaş wanted a coach who could lead the team to glory to celebrate the first championship since 2009 in their new stadium. After a failed attempt to bring back former coach Mircea Lucescu from Shakthar Donetsk, who had previously coached the Black Eagles between 2002 and 2004 and led them to their historic championship in their centenary year. Beşiktaş ended up with one name that pleased both the board and the fans: Şenol Güneş.

Şenol Güneş had led Bursaspor to a 6th place finish at the end of the 2014-2015 season and was widely praised for having Bursa played perhaps the best football of the country. With great attacking play, Bursaspor ended up being the topscoring team in the league 69 goals, 9 more than Champions Galatasaray. After two season’s of Slaven Bilic’s somewhat more controlling football, without a plethora of goals in every match, it was time for a change in phylosophy and a coach who was more attacking minded but at the same time had proven that he could compete for trophies. It should also not be forgotten that Şenol Güneş led the Turkish national team to what would be the biggest accomplishemnt in it’s history to date, by finishing 3rd at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

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Beşiktaş president Fikret Orman proudly presenting his new coach Şenol Güneş with the club’s new jersey.

With Bursaspor losing the majority of their star players from the previous season to Fenerbahçe, bar Serdar Aziz who remained, Şenol Güneş decided that he would not renew his contract with the club and instead opted to sign with the Black Eagles for what would be his first ever stint as manager of an Istanbul big 3 club. Bursaspor chairman Bolukbasi was not happy with the departure of Güneş despite the fact that he had made it clear to the Bursaspor chairman that he would not be extending his contract if the club did not keep hold of it’s star players for the following season. As Bursaspor did not keep their part of the bargain, neither did Şenol Güneş and left the 2010 Süper Lig Champions and signed a 2+1 year contract with the Black Eagles.

Unexpected departures

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Demba Ba won the hearts of the fans with his dedication to the club, professional behavior and crucial goals for the club.

With their new head coach Şenol Güneş, the Black Eagles started the preperation for the 2015-2016 season but after a good showing in Europe the previous season there was a lot of interest for some of Beşiktaş’ star players. In particular Demba Ba attracted the attention of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua. Demba Ba had made himself immortal with the Beşiktaş fans in the previous season by scoring an impressive 27 goals in 44 appearances, including 8 goals in European competition, setting a new record for the most goals scored by Beşiktaş player in a single European campaign. And he also was the first Beşiktaş player since Ilhan Mansiz to score more than 15 goals in a single Süper Lig season with 18 goals to his name (while Ilhan scored 21 during the 2001-2002 season).

But with the Chinese club offering more than double than what the Black Eagles had paid for Ba in the summer prior the club could not refuse the offer and accepted the € 13 million offer for their 30 year old Senegalese international. It took some convincing but after offer Demba Ba an annual wage of € 7,5 million per season (more than double of what he was earning at Beşiktaş), Ba decided to accept and move to China.

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Atinç played a total of 19 games, but only in case of injury to regular starters or in the cup.

Demba Ba’s wasn’t the only departure as another attractive offer came in for one of the club’s players, this time it was youngster Atinç Nukan. Atinç was only sparingly used by Slaven Bilic throughout the season but the 21 year old defender still managed to impress Redbull Leipzig’s sporting director Ralf Rangnick, resulting in an attractive € 5 million offer from the 2. Bundesliga club, which was promptly accepted by the Black Eagles as it was an attractive offer to both the player and the club. With Atinç being far from certain of a place in the starting XI and the offer being financially very attractive for Beşiktaş, who sold one of their youth players for more than € 1 million for the first time since selling Nihat Kahveci to Real Sociedad back in 2001 for € 5 million.

Cenk Gönen was also sold towards the end of the Summer to rivals Galatasaray for a fee of € 600.000 while former captain Tomas Sivok left the club after 7 years of loyal service and joined Bursaspor on a free transfer. Filip Holosko also left the club after nearly 10 years, his contract expires also and he joined Melbourne FC in Australia on a free. And former captain Ibrahim Toraman hung up his boots as it became clear that he would no longer have a place on the team. The departure of these three longserving players signalled the end of an era.

Daniel Opare did not see his six month loan spell with the Eagles get converted in to a permanent deal and returned to his while Ugur Boral was also let go after his contract expired. While youngster Muhammed Demirci was let go on a free transfer, with certain conditions attached, to Belgian side Mouscron-Péruwelz. While Gençlerbirligi defender Dusko Tosic was brough in on a free transfer at the start of the transfer window.

The Prodigal son returns

As always is the case in the summer, there are players who come and players who go. Among the incoming transfers there was a familiar face: Ricardo Andrade Bernando Quaresma.

The flamboyant Portuguese international winger had previously played for the club between 2010 and 2012 but left on a sour note when the current board administration took over from Yildirim Demirören in 2012. There were several issues with Quaresma at the time which have all been previously discussed in our older articles so we will not go in to this any further, but it safe to say that nobody ever expected the return of Ricardo Quaresma especially after president Fikret Orman had uttered the words that Quaresma would never play for Beşiktaş again.

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Quaresma posing in the new Beşiktaş jersey live on BJK TV after his first interview.

However, with the departure of Demba Ba the fans expected something big and Fikret Orman decided to come back on his words. Knowing that Quaresma was and is still immensely popular with the fans and knowing that the player was open to a return, Orman contacted the player and the two settled their differences. Upon his return Fikret Orman stated that Quaresma was not the same person he was 3 years ago and that he had matured, he said that the conditions were fitting for a return and that is why he brought him back. Quaresma was greeted at the airport by thousands of enthusiastic fans who were ecstactic about his return.

Enter Super Mario

With the departure of Demba Ba, a gaping hole was left in the team as they lost their topscoring playing. Fikret Orman promised the fans that he suitable replacement would be brought in and for a while it looked like Beşiktaş would once again shop in London for a striker as they were eyeing Chelsea forward Loïc Rémy. But perhaps to the surprise of friend and foe, the Black Eagles managed to sign someone far more reputable than Rémy. Former Bayern Munich and German international forward: Mario Gomez.

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Mario Gomez during his first interview with BJK TV after his arrival in Istanbul.

In what was a masterful transfer move, Gomez came in on a two year loan in which the Black Eagles only have to pay the player’s wages. Beşiktaş officially announced the signing of the German striker on the 30th of July and he was greeted by thousands of fans at the Atatürk airport upon his arrival.

With Quaresma and Mario Gomez the club had now signed two star players and continued to improve their squad for the new season with the arrivals of rightback Andreas Beck from Hoffenheim and central defender Luiz Rhodolfo from Brazilian side Grémio.

With the sale of goalkeeper Cenk Gönen and the heavy critisism at the adress of first choice goalkeeper Tolga Zengin, it looked like Beşiktaş were on the verge of bringing in a new goalkeeper with former FC Barcelona man Victor Valdés, but the coach ultimately decided that he wanted to stick with Tolga, whom he had worked with before at Trabzonspor, and the transfer of Valdés fell through.

transfer round up 2015 summer

In total five players were brought in during the Summer transfer window; Ricardo Quaresma, Dusko Tosic, Mario Gomez, Luiz Rhodolfo and Andreas Beck.

The injury bug strikes again

While the board were handling off some of the final transfers with both Rhodolfo and Mario Gomez coming in towards the tail end of the summer training camps in Germany and Austria, bad luck struck as Tolgay Arslan went down with an ACL injury, taking him out for roughly six months. While Veli Kavlak hadn’t played since the February derby with Fenerbahçe going down to a shoulder injury. With Veli’s shoulder surgery not being a success the Austrian international had to undergo surgery once again, taking him out for the entir efirst half of the upcoming 2015-2016 season. A heavy blow to the ambitions of the Black Eagles as this took out two of their more important central midfielders. For a long time it looked as if the club would bring in a defensive midfielder during the summer, but after a move for Liverpool defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva fell through  the club decided against forking out precious transfer resources which could otherwise be saved up and used during the January 2016 transfer window.

A new season, renewed hope and ambitions

With five new players and a new coach, the Black Eagles started off the new season with a convincing win over Mersin idmanyurdu on matchday one. Orchestrated by a revitalized Oguzhan Özyakup, who clearly could find himself in the more attacking approach of Şenol Güneş. Oguzhan had been second choice to José Sosa for much of the 2014-2015 season

Since joining Beşiktaş at the start of the 2014-2015 season, Cenk Tosun has now scored an impressive 12 goals in 13 starts and assisted one more.

Cenk Tosun opàened his account to the new season with 3 goals in one match, his first ever hattrick at senior squad level.

under Slaven Bilic, but with the injuries of both Veli Kavlak and Tolgay Arslan Şenol Güneş was forced to play the young playmaker in a more defensive role in midfield. More defensive, that’s quite relative however as the 22 year old midfielder provided his teammates with not one, not two but three assits. With Mario Gomez only having just arrived at the club a week prior, Cenk Tosun started in the opening match against Mersin Idmanyurdu and immediatly showed that he wasn’t just a backup, but a worthy contender for a place in the starting XI by scoring the first hattrick of his career.

With Mersin Idmanyurdu easily dispatched a tougher game was waiting around the corner as Şenol Güneş faced his former club Trabzonspor with his new club Beşiktaş at the Atatürk Olimpiyat. Everyone had high expectations for this game as Beşiktaş had impressed everyone with their performance against Mersin on the opening matchday, but the first half of this clash saw no goals and it was Trabzonspor who opened the scoreline in the second half. However that goals was quickly cancelled out by Ricardo Quaresma’s first goal for the Black Eagles since his return. Quaresma however went from hero to zero as only minutes later he saw his second yellow card after taking a freekick quickly, which the referee deemed worthy to show him his second yellow.

While down to 10 men, Trabzonspor took the upperhand in the match and in the 85th minute Erkan Zengin’s long range strike left Tolga nailed to the ground, presenting Beşiktaş with their first defeat of the season and an early reality check after the impressive showing on matchday one. While Ricardo Quaresma’s second yellow was certainly a soft call, Şenol Güneş made it clear that he did not want any of his players to take such a dumb red card again, starting Quaresma on the bench for the following games after he had served his one match suspension.

Beşiktaş rebounded well from the defeat however and won convincingly away at Gaziantepspor, atleast that is what the scoreline suggests. In reality the Black Eagles found it very difficult to break down Gaziantep’s sturdy defence, but 78th minute freekick goal from Oguzhan Özyakup opened the flood gates and by the fulltime whistle the Eagles had added 3 more to their tally.

Matchday 3 would bring the debut of Mario Gomez in the starting XI, while he had already picked up a few minutes against Mersin and Trabzon, this was the first time the German started a match. And he immediatly showed his worth by scoring a brace. A goal in each half was enough to see off Medipol Başakşehir, who in the past have always been a tough opponent.

In the Europa League, Beşiktaş had been drawn in a group with Sporting CP, Lokomotiv Moscow and Skenderbeu Korçe. On the 17th of September the Black Eagles had their opening game of the group stages, away at the Elbasan Arena against Skënderbeu Korçë. Beşiktaş returned to Istanbul with 3 points after a narrow 1-0 victory thanks to a strike from José Sosa.

The following game in the league took the Black Eagles to Ankara, where they faced Gençlerbirligi. An own goal in the first half however made the trip to Ankara a difficult one. And as luck would have it, the man to score the own goal was the same man who spent the previous 3 season at Gençlerbirligi: Dusko Tosic. Gökhan Töre cancelled out Tosic’s own goal with a second half header, but despite having several more chances Beşiktaş could not return to Istanbul with the 3 points this time and had to be happy with the one point.

Andreas Beck: “Sometimes when you play difficult away games like this, you have to be happy with just one point.”

A long time coming…

Beşiktaş had not won a single derby against their rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray since beating Fenerbahçe at the Inönü stadium on the 3rd of March 2013, 3-2.

During the entire two years span that Slaven Bilic had been coach at Beşiktaş, the Black Eagles had not managed to win a single one of their derby matches. Two draws and two defeats against Fenerbahçe and four defeats against Galatasaray were the painful statistics before the first derby of the 2015-2016.

But under Şenol Güneş the Black Eagles would face more sunny days. For the first time in more than 2 years Beşiktaş would taste victory again in a derby match.

On September 27th the Black Eagles took on and beat fierce rivals Fenerbahçe at the Atatürk Olimpiyat stadium: 3-2. And while Demba Ba had earned himself a place in the heart of the fans the season prior, not one of his 27 goals came against Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray. Mario Gomez on the other hand had a huge part in this historic victory by scoring a brace. Fenerbahçe looked for an early goal but it was Beşiktaş who struck first after Simon Kjaer forced the ball in to his own net after a José Sosa freekick in the 20th minute. Four minutes later Mario Gomez doubled the score and seemingly put the match beyond the visitors, especially when Olcay had the chance to make it 3, but his header went narrowly wide.

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Mario Gomez celebrating his first goal against Fenerbahçe.

Fenerbahçe got back in to the match thanks to a Dusko Tosic own goal, his second own goal in back to back matches which brought the visitors back in to the game. At halftime the Eagles were in the lead however and Fenerbahçe needed a little help from the referee to tie things up in the second half via Robin van Persie. The controversial part of this goal was that the ball seemed to have gone over the back line and it should have been a goalkick, but Volkan Sen was allowed to continue to the surprise of the Beşiktaş defenders, this lapse in concentration allowed Volkan to provide Van Persie with the easy finish from close range.

While fans were slowly getting the feeling that it wasn’t to be, especially when Van Persie hit the outside of the post a few minutes later, it was Oguzhan Özyakup who sent the ball deep on the left wing to Gökhan Töre, Töre had one more excellent cross left in him and Mario Gomez maanged to dispatch Bruno Alves and headed it in to the back of the net with a diving header in the 74th minute. This time Fenerbahçe did not have enough left in the tank to get back in it and the Black Eagles celebrated their first derby win in literally two years! The win also allowed Beşiktaş to overtake leaders Fenerbahçe in the standings, although both would be on level points but Beşiktaş had the better goal differential.

The following Thursday it was Europa League time once again, Beşiktaş took on Sporting Cp at the Atatürk Olimpiyat. But after going down a goal in the first half had to be satisfied with a draw when Gökhan Töre pulled it level in the second half, there were some chances to win but the game ended in 1-1.

After the international break, Beşiktaş beat Rizespor 1-0 at home thanks to a classic Quaresma goal from the edge of the box. And with games coming in quick succession at this stage of the season it was Europa League time once again come the following Thursday, a difficult away game in Moscow against Lokomtiv which the Black Eagles controlled and dominated but due to a mistake from José Sosa at the start of the second half Beşiktaş went down a goal when Maicon scored. Mario Gomez would not take a defeat however and beat the Lokomotiv’s goalkeeper Guilherme with a long range drive fromt he edge of the box. After Vedran Corluka was sent off with a red card it looked like the Black Eagles would come away with a victory in Moscow, but that second goal didn’t come and the mach ended in 1-1. Beşiktaş still unbeaten but also only had 5 points from 3 matches.

The following league match away at Antalya, which was the inauguration match of the brand new 33,000 seater Antalya Arena, was won convincingly: 1-5. But Kasimpaşa held the Black Eagles to a 3-3 draw the following week in a match which was too one sided to end in such a scoreline. The visitors literally stuck their nose at the window 3 times but also scored 3 times, it took a penalty in added time from Oguzhan Özyakup to save a point for Beşiktaş at the Başakşehir  stadium.

Quaresma's goal against Lokomotiv was his 8th total in Europe for the Black Eagles.

Quaresma’s goal against Lokomotiv was his 8th total in Europe for the Black Eagles.

In the Europa League Beşiktaş played a crucial game with Lokomotiv Moscow, this time at the Atatürk Olimpiyat stadium. If Beşiktaş won this match all they needed was a home win the following matchday against Skënderbeu to secure qualification to the next round. Also making the final matchday trip to Lisbon unimportant.

However after having taken the lead thanks to a great Ricardo Quaresma strike in the second half, Beşiktaş gave away their slim lead towards the end of the match when Ismail lifted the offside trap which allowed Oumar Niasse, ex-Akhisar Belediyespor, to score the equalizer. Beşiktaş knew how important a victory was int his game and pushed forward in the final 10 minutes, but a fantastic save by Lokomotiv’s goalkeeper Guilherme kept Ersan Gülüm’s close range header out of goal and Beşiktaş drew yet again, for the third time: 1-1 the final score.

Fortunately for the Black Eagles however they were done a huge favour by the Albanian champions Skënderbeu, who got a stunning 3-0 victory at home against Sporting CP. Which kept Beşiktaş in a good position, needing just a win against Skënderbeu the following matchday at the Atatürk Olimpiyat and a point on the final matchday in Lisbon.

The following match in the Süper Lig was away against Bursaspor and was easily the worst game the Black Eagles played up until that moment. However, after being the lesser of the two sides for 89 minutes, Oguzhan Özyakup saved the day after a tiki-taka’esque attack involving Cenk Tosun, Gökhan Tore, Atiba Hutchinson and finally Oguzhan: 1-0 right at the death!

The following two matches both in the league and in the Europa League were easily won, first Sivasspor was dispatched by 2-0 and Skënderbeu was also easily beaten by 2-0 thanks to a brace from Cenk Tosun.

The next game brought less success however as Beşiktaş faced Akhisar Belediyespor at the Başakşehir stadium. It took only about four minutes for the visitors to open the scoreline when Güray Vural slipped through the defence and went around Tolga to put the ball in the back of the net. This allowed Akhisar to sit back and lean on the counter while Beşiktaş had to look for the equalizer. Beşiktaş created multiple opportunities in the first half including an absolute sitter for Ricardo Quaresma, but his trivela went wide while Milan Lukac prevented the equalizer on other occassions. As we approached halftime Akhisar struck again, with what was probably their first attack since the first goal, Sami dribbled to the left of Rhodolfo and fired a weak shot at goal, but Tolga completely fubmled the save and the ball bobbled in to the back of the net. This was the start of the renewed critisism at the adress of Tolga. After playing a big part in the European exit against Club Brugge the previous season he was retained as first choice goalkeeper at the start of the season and up until now had played a solid season. But this blunder made the already difficult opponent Akhisar even more difficult to overcome. In fact the second goal would prove to be the killing blow as Beşiktaş failed to score a goal for the first time in the season, therefore the game ended iAn a 2-0 home defeat.

Again the Black Eagles rebounded well from a defeat as they travelled to Kayseri to beat Kayserispor 1-2 thanks to two sublime goals from Mario Gomez and José Sosa.

A crucial week in the league and Europe

The following week would be crucial for the future of the Black Eagles’ season as they faced Sporting CP in the deciding group stage game int he Europa League and they also faced Galatasaray that following Monday.

The trip to Lisbon ended up being another dark day in the recent European history of the club, after dominating the game for nearly 70 and even being in the lead thanks to a Mario Gomez goal in the 58th minute on an inch perfect trivela cross by Ricardo Quaresma. Beşiktaş controlled the game and were patiently building towards a second goal, Sporting seemed on the ropes and ready for the slaughter but then 67th minute, for what seemed a horrible first touch by striker Islam Slimani, leaded to the equalizing goal. The goal looked like a carbon copy to the goal which Beşiktaş conceded earlier that year against Club Brugge at the Atatürk Olimpiyat, for some reason which is impossible to explain Tolga Zengin decided to once again camp on his goalline instead of rushing out to clear or gather a loose ball. But instead of doing so, he hesitated once again and as so often is the case: when a goalkeeper hesitates he’s already beaten. Slimani scored the equalizer and only five minutes later Tolga made another mistake on a close range shot from Bryan Ruiz, a shot he should have easily saved but somehow also went in. It should be said that Tolga wasn’t the only one at fault with this goal as it was far too easy for Ruiz to actually take the shot, the surrounding defenders did far too little to help out their goalkeeper. And for the third time int his lengthy year overview I am going to use this sentence: that goal proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Teo Guttierez added to the Black Eagles’ misery 5 minutes later as they were pushing forward in search for an equalizer and that goal sealed the European exit, too early in the group stages despite being on top of the table before this match.

Beşiktaş exitted Europe with 9 points, 3 draws, 2 wins and 1 defeat. And that right before a crucial derby against rivals Galatasaray only four days later.

With what was their third defeat of the season, Beşiktaş has rebounded very well the previous two times and they would so for a first time.

The club that had not won a derby match in over 2 years suddenly won two in the span of four months as Galatasaray was beaten at the Atatürk Olimpiyat stadium: 2-1.

And it was a memorable derby, not because of the scoreline but because of the way in which the victory was secured. Beşiktaş dominated the match from start to finish, seldom has a derby game been so one sided. The only reason that Galatasaray even got on the scoresheet was due to a massive mistake by goalkeeper Günay Güvenç, who had replaced Tolga Zengin in goal who reportedly had an injury. But more likely couldn’t cope with the pressure of the derby after his two big mistakes against Sporting and causing Beşiktaş’ European exit for the second year straight.

The first half ended 0-0, although it was a very good first half on the part of Beşiktaş and Galatasaray got a small miracle to go in to halftime on level terms. That miracle had a name, Fernando Muslera. The Uruguayan goalkeeper saved chance after chance, in what was probably his best game of the season, no contest.

gomez-gs1

While we got no derby goals from Demba Ba, we have already been spoiled with 3 from Mario Gomez in just 2 games.

And when Galatasaray took the lead in the 52nd minute a doom scenario was seemingly unfolding, European elimination and a derby defeat all in the timespan of 4 days. But fear not, one man stood up to answer the call and who else but Mario Gomez pulled the scores level only two minutes later? Muslera finally had to recognize his superior in the German when Gomez took a hard driven low shot from the edge of the box.

toreing

Gökhan Töre celebrates his goal with the now famous “Töreface”.

Beşiktaş brought on Kerim Frei and Gökhan Töre and continued to press Galatasaray back. Kerim was close to score the second but Muslera yet again had a fantastic save in him to keep the scores level. However two minutes after coming on Gökhan Töre decided that Galatasaray would leave the Atatürk Olimpiyat with no points at all, with a fantastic strike with the outside of his foot he beat Muslera for the second time on the night, again in the lower left corner of his goal. Gökhan celebrated his goal with something which has now become an actual internet meme “Töreing” or the “Töreface”.

This win would keep Beşiktaş at the top of the table going in to matchday 16 of the Spor Toto Süper Lig, one point clear at the top.

After the delirium of the second consecutive derby victory it was time for a breather and Beşiktaş easily saw off Karabükspor in the opening match fo the Turkish cup group stages, 3-0. With Cenk Tosun doing his part with another brace.

Despite having lost twice already in the league, both times at home against Trabzonspor and against Akhisar Belediyespor, Beşiktaş had really only played one match so far in the season in which they were the lesser of the two sides. The match against Trabzonspor got decided by a controversial sending off and the match against Akhisar was completely dominated and could have just as easily ended in a 4-1 win, but Tolga’s mistake led to the defeat there. Only Bursaspor had managed to really outplay Beşiktaş, in what was probably their best match of the season. But on matchday 16 the Black Eagles played their second turely bad match.

Granted, the pitch conditions were absolutely horrendous. The pitch was more ditch than grass and the soil was nearly frozen solid. In the post match interview the players made it clear that they played with the fear of injuries in the back of their head, this may explain why it seemed as if they were holding back in every single duel. Osmanlispor were in the lead at halftime after Raul Rusecscu had initially put the hosts ahead, Mario Gomez equalized with a header on a Quaresma freekick, but Papa Ndiaye put the hosts back in the lead just a minute before the halftime whistle.

Coming out of the dressing room it did not take long before José Sosa had already put the scores level again in the 50th minute. But after that equalizer the home side took the upperhand once again, without truely creating any clear cut chances. But it did not look like Beşiktaş would come away with a victory in Ankara, until José Sosa decided to take a walk through the heart of the Osmanlispor defence in the 90th minute, Sosa beat two defenders and also goalkeeper Ahmet Sahin with a low driven strike, putting the Black Eagle sin the league for the first time in the match. A lead they only had to hold on to for a good 3 minutes. A win which could be named “lucky”, but 3 points are 3 points!

During the week there was another cup game, again on an atrocious pitch, but this one was a bit more excuseable as it was the pitch of a third division team and not a Süper Lig side. The sandbox which was Sivas Belediyespor’s home turf proved to make it difficult for Beşiktaş to play their regular freeflowing football, but the Black Eagles still got an easy win with goals from Cenk Tosun, who already scored his 10th of the season in all comeptitions, and the first goal of the season for Mustafa Pektemek, who got married earlier in the week.

The final match of 2015 was also the final match of the first half of the season. Beşiktaş needed a victory to go in tot he winter break as “winter champions” for the first time since the 2003-2004 season.

Torku Konyaspor was the opponent and they proved to be a well organized and hard to break down team int he first half, 0-0 at the coffee break. But Beşiktaş seemingly found the key to Konyaspor’s defene during the break and ame out of the dressing room firing on all cylinders. First Mario Gomez did well to win the ball int he opposition’s half leading in to Oguzhan Özyakup’s well taken opening goal, going around the goalkeeper and the last defender to slot it in to the back of the net in the 50th minute. Olcay assisted the second just 14 minutes later as he set up Mario Gomez with a one on one opportunity, Gomez finished the chance as only a true striker can by giving the ball a subtle lift to lob it over the goalkeeper outstretched leg, 2-0. Five minutes later Gökhan Töre scored a beauty from the edge of the box and ten minutes before fulltime Gökhan’s replacement Kerim Frei also got on the scoresheet, ending 2015 in style.

A year of ups and downs

Sitting here writing this now on the 31st of December 2015, I’m looking back at all these memories. Some of them fond and some of them quite sour. Luckily the year ended on a high note for all us Beşiktaş fans, the ending of the 2014-2015 season was painful, especially because the rest of the season had been so promising. Hopefully, in about six months from now we can once again celebrate a chamiponship for the first time since 2009. This team is certainly capable of it and with a few good additions in the upcoming transfer window we will be an even more formidable side!

With that thought I bid you all adieu, realizing that the vast majority of you who take the time to read this piece will surely do so after the clock as struck twelve and we’ve entered the new year. I leave you with all my best wishes for 2016 and finally…

 

FORZA BEŞİKTAŞ!

 

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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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