UEFA Europa League quarter-finalists earlier this season, Beşiktaş have claimed the Turkish Super League title for the 15th time after seeing off stiff competition from İstanbul Başakşehir. The Black Eagles retained their crown with a 4-0 win at Gaziantepspor on Sunday, as Şenol Güneş made history by becoming the first Turkish coach to lead the club to a second consecutive league trophy.
How they won it
Beşiktaş claimed pole position as early as January following a steady run that brought just one defeat, turning their Beşiktaş Arena home into a virtual fortress. For many, the Istanbul giants boasted the most effective attack in the division, with the skill and experience of playmaker Ricardo Quaresma bolstered by the addition of Talisca on loan from Benfica. Suiting Güneş’s plans well, the Brazilian also contributed goals.
So too did forwards Vincent Aboubakar and top scorer Cenk Tosun, while winter signing Ryan Babel brought energy and consistency to the left wing. Elsewhere, Brazilian centre-back Marcelo established himself as defensive maestro, and 34-year-old Atiba Hutchinson largely provided a reassuring presence in the midfield.
Key Number: 25
Beşiktaş last retained the Turkish title 25 years ago in 1991/92.
With arch-rivals Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray dropping out of title race early on, İstanbul Başakşehir remained the sole threat to the Black Eagles’ bid for the trophy until the end. Despite cruising to a key 3-1 victory against Beşiktaş last month, the challengers’ hopes were dented dramatically after their goalless draw against Trabzonspor in late May.
Beşiktaş’s double dream was extinguished by city-rivals Fenerbahçe in the last 16 of the Turkish Cup, and their conquerors subsequently fell short against İstanbul Başakşehir in the semi-finals, losing 10-9 on penalties at the end of a tension-filled shoot-out. That booked a final spot for Abdullah Avcı’s men, who will tackle Konyaspor in the decider on Wednesday.
Room for improvement
The champions were a little too dependent on Marcelo at the back and lost their rigour whenever he was absent – as in their first league loss of the campaign to Kasımpaşa. Güneş struggled to find an effective defensive pairing without the Brazilian, and he should also be concerned about his team’s struggles against İstanbul Başakşehir, Dynamo Kyiv and Fenerbahçe. On each occasion, Beşiktaş found life difficult when they faced sides who press high up the pitch without leaving space at the back.
Biggest win: 5-1 v Konyaspor
Biggest loss: 3-1 v İstanbul Başakşehir
Top goalscorer: Cenk Tosun (18)