Turkish side Besiktas will travel to Norway to take on Tromso this Thursday in the first leg of the Europa League playoffs. Both sides finished near the top of their respective domestic leagues, but one side is better than the other … at least on paper, that is.
The Norwegian side sit in 13th place with 21 points after 20 games. This is less than admirable for a side that finished in fourth last season to earn a spot in the Europa League qualifiers. If they do not pick up the slack and fix their errors and issues, they will lose to a Besiktas side that is hungry for European soccer.
The Istanbul giants kick-started their league campaign with a 2-0 derby victory over Black Sea powerhouse Trabzonspor thanks to goals by Olcay Sahan and Gokhan Tore. Both players not only scored, but played an important role in the victory by holding onto the ball, making good runs and passing the ball in a precise manner.
Head coach Slaven Bilic has instilled the same mentality into this team as he did with his national side Croatia when he used to be at their helm. He is all about defending as a unit, attacking with most of the players but making sure enough guys are at the back to halt counters and buildups, and passing the ball around only enough times until an opening to fire on the frame arrives.
Since the Turks have a more experienced coach and play in a slightly more competitive league, they will have the upper hand in both legs and are expected to prove that by winning and advancing. If they lose this tie, it will be extremely disappointing as this team has truly grown over the summer and put on a clinic in their season opener.
Prediction: Tromso 0-2 Besiktas — The game will be balanced at first as both sides will acquaint themselves with one another before playing to the bests of their ability. Once this happens, BJK will show their class differential and prove so with the score line in their favor.