Dutch runners-up Feyenoord Rotterdam will be hosting their Champions League 3rd Qualifying round opponents Besiktas JK Wednesday evening at the De Kuip stadium. Feyenoord go into the tie as a club with European pedigree, having won the European Cup in 1970 and the UEFA Cup in 1974 and 2002. However they have not appeared in the Champions League for over 10 years, and will have a tough time getting past their Turkish opponents. Besiktas meanwhile finished 3rd in the 2013/14 edition of the Turkish Super Lig behind champions Fenerbahçe and second-placed Galatasaray. Due to Fenerbahçe’s European ban due to match-fixing, Besiktas got the qualifying round spot that originally belonged to Galatasaray, who now go straight into the group stages of the Champions League.
This match will be the first ever meeting between the two sides, and both will be hungry to gain the upper hand in the first of two legs. Feyenoord will have the not so easy task of keeping a clean sheet at home, while Besiktas will be looking to exploit Feyenoord’s exodus and get the hugely important away goal (or two).
Predicted Starting XIs
Feyenoord will have to rely on their midfield trio of Clasie, VIlhena, and Immers as the catalyst to their progression in the qualifying rounds. With the defensive line vastly depleted with three starters being sold and goal machine Graziano Pelle leaving for England, the midfield will have to both hold the ground and defend in addition to making smart passes forward to kick-start an attacking play. From the left, Jean-Paul Boetius will be tasked with supplying new starting forward Mitchel te Vrede, who is coming in as the replacement for Pelle. At the back, Kongolo and Mathijsen will have to be defensive rocks against the powerful Besiktas attack, and must keep a clean sheet in order for Feyenoord to go into the away match in Turkey with some breathing room. Veteran signing Khalid Boulahrouz may potentially aid in that should new coach Fred Rutten decide to not risk starting a still very raw Kongolo.
Besiktas on the other hand will be looking to exploit the recent jumble in the Feyenoord defense due to the club losing three of its four Netherlands World Cup defenders. With the double pivot of Kavlak and Hutchinson holding down the fort in the centre of the pitch and centre-backs Sivok and Franco attempting to shut down Feyenoord’s attack, the Besiktas front line will advance and try to exploit Feyenoord’s defensive frailties. New signing Demba Ba will spearhead Beskitas’ play, with Sahan, Ozyakup and Holosko supplying the Senegalese striker with plenty of chances from which he can score.
Predicted score: Feyenoord 2-1 Besiktas
Despite the home team winning the tie, Besiktas will have gotten the hugely important away goal and will take that advantage over to the 2nd leg in Turkey. Regardless of who advances, their potential 4th round opponents are no walk in the park- Arsenal, Bilbao, Porto, Leverkusen and Napoli are all clubs that can be paired with the winner of Feyenoord - Besiktas.