Borussia Dortmund brace themselves for a tricky test in Istanbul this midweek as they face Besiktas on Wednesday.

Borussia Dortmund are gearing up for their first match of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League, taking on Besiktas on Wednesday, at Vodafone Arena in Istanbul. The Bundesliga giants have been drawn in a relatively easy group, evading the likes of Manchester City, Atletico Madrid or Chelsea.

Instead, Die Schwarzgelben will be playing against Sporting CP, Ajax and indeed Besiktas, which means they are widely favoured to win Group C. On that note, starting the campaign on a positive note could be crucial for Marco Rose, who had reached the Round of 16 last season with Borussia Monchengladbach, coming out of a group that involved Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Dortmund have been in good touch recently, churning out wins over TSG Hoffenheim and most recently Bayer Leverkusen. It has catapulted them into third place, in the embryonic Bundesliga table.

Things have gone smoother for their midweek opponent Besiktas, as they are leading the Super Lig table with ten points in four matches. The Black Eagles had won the league title by a mere goal difference last season and incidentally, they are also currently on top of the league due to a superior goal difference over Trabzonspor, Fenerbahce and Konyaspor.

Nevertheless, this could be an exciting game for the home side. They have never faced Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League and have lost both of their previous competitive games against the Bundesliga side, with both defeats coming in the 1989/90 Cup Winners’ Cup first round.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their exciting matchup at the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul this midweek.

Team News & Tactics

Besiktas

It will be interesting to see how Besiktas approach this game. Their coach Sergen Yalcin typically favours a traditional 4-2-3-1 setup that has proven to be quite effective against Dortmund, especially if they can keep the opposition fullbacks in check.

Unfortunately, that could prove to be a difficult challenge as the hosts are heading into this game without key defender Domagoj Vida. Welinton is likely to replace the veteran Croat at centre-back, forming the defensive partnership alongside captain Necip Uysal and the two fullbacks in Valentin Rosier and Fabrice N’Sakala.

In midfield, the summer addition of Miralem Pjanic has been a massive boon for Besiktas. He and Atiba Hutchinson should provide a lot of experience in the Besiktas midfield, though the Black Eagles are without their main creative force in Alex Teixeira. The Brazilian’s absence means the onus will be on Hutchinson and Pjanic to offer creativity going forward.

Elsewhere, Besiktas are likely to deploy the wide attacking of Rachid Ghezzal and Georges Kevin N’Koudou, ahead of Gokhan Tore. They could be asked to move into a more central area in the press, allowing Dortmund fullback space, especially on the left hand side.

It should bode well for N’Koudou as he looks to provide those driven crosses into the box for former Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian had played for the Bundesliga giants for half a season, scoring nine goals in 14 games.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Destanoglu; Rosier, Uysal, Welinton, N’Sakala; Pjanic, Souza, Hutchinson; Ghezzal, Batshuayi, N’Koudou

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Borussia Dortmund

Marco Rose has some key decisions to make in terms of selection after once again being forced to work hard for a victory against Leverkusen. The most notable change in his system that the inclusion of Axel Witsel in holding midfield that did not really pay off well, as the Belgian’s lack of space slowed down the BVB build-up.

Rose could rectify that mistake this midweek by deploying Mahmoud Dahoud as the number six, with Julian Brandt and Jude Bellingham operating in the advanced role. The same applies to Marco Reus, whose more versatile role in attack should see the Dortmund captain drop deep to pick the ball up, with Brandt moving out wide.

This little manoeuvre in midfield should offer Dortmund the chance to start with an extra attacker. Donyell Malen is the favourite as Thorgan Hazard is still a doubt due to injury while Youssoufa Moukoko is competing in the UEFA Youth League.

Things get interesting in defence, where the visitors are missing Emre Can, Mateu Morey and Dan-Axel Zagadou through injuries. Mats Hummels, on the other hand, is a doubt after returning from another injury layoff. The veteran did make an appearance against Leverkusen, but it is unlikely that he will start against Besiktas.

It should pave the way for new signing Marin Pongracic to retain his place alongside Manuel Akanji at the heart of the four-man backline, with Thomas Meunier and Raphael Guerreiro occupying the fullback positions.

Akanji and Pongracic lacked communication in the last game and Witsel did not do in favours either, which means the onus will be on Dahoud to drop deep and settle out any errors. The Dortmund defence are still yet to hand goalkeeper Gregor Kobel his first clean sheet for his new club.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Kobel; Meunier, Pongracic, Akanji, Guerreiro; Bellingham, Dahoud, Brandt; Reus; Malen, Haaland

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Key Stats

  • Borussia Dortmund have a 100% win rate against Turkish opponents in the UEFA Champions League (4/4), with all four of their previous games coming against Galatasaray. This is their joint-best 100% record against teams from a specific nation in the competition, having also won four out of four against Czech opponents.
  • Besiktas have only won two of their 11 meetings with German sides in European competition (D1 L8), however, both of those victories came in the last tournament where they were in the same group as a German side – beating RB Leipzig twice in 2017/18 UEFA Champions League.
  • Dortmund and Besiktas have only been drawn together in European competition once before, BVB winning home and away in the first round of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1989.
  • Borussia won the Champions League in 1997 and were finalists in 2013, losing their all-Bundesliga final to Klassiker rivals Bayern Munich.
  • Besiktas striker Michy Batshuayi scored nine goals in 14 games for Dortmund on loan from Chelsea in the second half of the 2017/18 campaign.

Player to Watch

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland is definitely the player to keep an eye on in this encounter as the Norwegian superstar looks to extend on his majestic record in the UEFA Champions League. He was the top scorer in the competition last season with 10 goals, scored at a rate of one every 76 minutes he played.

Overall, Haaland’s numbers in the Champions League is truly astounding, with the forward netting 20 goals in just 16 appearances. He has even been voted as Europe’s Best Forward last season as well as the Player of the Season in the Bundesliga, ahead of Robert Lewandowski.

The former RB Salzburg prodigy has started the new season with eight goals in six appearances, but he will be determined to extend that tally. Besiktas, to that end, are an ideal opposition and there is no doubt that the Turkish champions will be keeping a close eye on him this midweek.

Prediction

Besiktas 0-3 Borussia Dortmund

It might be a difficult game for Besiktas who don’t generally tend to perform well in Europe and have a dismal record against German opposition. Although they are yet to play Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, the absence of key players like Vida and Teixeira could have major impact on their chances against one of the mightiest attackers in Europe, led by none other than Haaland.

Indeed, their fate could depend on how they prevent the Norwegian from impacting the game. But the presence of other gifted stars like Malen, Bellingham and Reus might be too much for the hosts to handle. As such, we are expecting a comfortable 3-0 victory for Borussia Dortmund this midweek.

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