UEL: Club Brugge – Beşiktaş JK

Updated: March 11, 2015

UEFA Europa League
Club Brugge KV (BEL) – Beşiktaş JK (TUR)
Location: Jan-Breydel stadion, Brugge
Referee: Craig Thomson (SCO)
Date: Thursday, March 12th
Time: 20:00 (GMT+2)
Channel: Star TV
Round of 16 (first leg)

Beşiktaş have travelled to Belgium for the first leg of the round of 16 to face current Belgian Pro League leaders Club Brugge at the Jan-Breydel stadium.

The Black Eagles have travelled without key players José Ernesto Sosa (hamstring injury) and Atiba Hutchinson (swelling on his right knee).

Club Brugge themselves are missing one of their most important players in Victor Vazquez who suffered an ankle injury last week.

Both teams have been in a bit of a slump lately in their respective competitions, although that is very relative as both are still top of their respective league tables.

Brugge will prove to be a tough opponent for the Black Eagles, but certainly not an opponent who are unbeatable. The Belgian team have had a great European season so far as they are one of the only two remaining teams in the competition who have suffered no defeats. On the other hand, they haven’t exactly faced Europe’s finest. On the contrary to the Black Eagles who have already played three top Premier League sides in Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Club Brugge are usually a team who play a smooth passing game with a lot of creativity coming from their playmaker Victor Vazquez. They have been swinging through the Belgian Pro League over the past few months and only recently suffered their first domestic defeat at the hands of KV Kortrijk, but this was shortly followed by their second defeat at the hands of KAA Gent. Two defeats in a short amount of time followed by a pretty nasty ankle injury to their star player Victor Vazquez has forced Club Brugge to change their approach in their last league game against Charleroi, where they played a much more physical game utilizing the long ball very frequently with targetman Tom De Sutter up front.

The Belgians will no doubt be looking at that other star player: Lior Rafaelov. the Israeli attack minded midfielder, who can also play on either wing, has proven to be an instrumental player for the West-Flemish outfit over the past couple of months and at 28 he is one of Michel Preud’homme more experienced players.

With some injuries to deal with Michel Preud’homme will not be able to play with his, on paper, strongest team. Neither will Slaven Bilic.

Preud’homme will most likely be opting for a lot of hard workers and may be forced to employ the more physical approach they used over the weekend against Charleroi.

Beşiktaş have their own injury woes, but have seen Cenk Tosun make his return to full training and he has travelled with the team to Belgium. Cenk has scored seven goals so far this season and has proven a vital cog in the machine especially whenever Demba Ba was not able to play.

With both Atiba Hutchinson and José Ernesto Sosa out with injuries, the Black Eagles have lost two players of their typical three-man midfield.

Tolgay Arslan is one who is very likely to replace Sosa in the starting lineup, Necip Uysal or Oguzhan Özyakup will be the most likely candidates to replace Atiba Hutchinson, with our money being on the first of the two.

The stadium in Belgium is not expected to be full, the Belgian club are expecting somewhere around 18.000 fans to show up for this first leg match. A low turnout considering their stadium capacity is slightly above 29.000, granted that will be lower due to security reasons (buffer zone).

Beşiktaş have been allocated 1.350 tickets, which have all been sold out.

Beşiktaş predicted XI:

Cenk Gönen; Serdar, Ersan Gülüm, Pedro Franco, Daniel Opare; Veli Kavlak, Necip Uysal, Tolgay Arslan; Gökhan Töre, Olcay, Demba Ba

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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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