The Champions League Draw saw Europe’s footballing elite pitted against each other and one clash that really caught our eye was what will turn out to be the battle of the Eagles or in other words Besiktas v Benfica.
The Turkish champions drew Benfica, Dynamo Kiev and Napoli in what looks shaped to be the most unpredictable group in the competition.
Besiktas will be no pushovers having won the Super Lig under one of the most successful managers in Turkish footballing history – Senol Gunes. The experienced manager famously guided Turkey to 3rd place in the 2002 World Cup and has a reputation for developing players. Former Arsenal youngster Oguzhan Ozyakup has developed into one of the most sought after players in the league under his stewardship with Manchester United, the Gunners and Sevilla all knocking on the door for the creative midfielder.
The Black Eagles will also have a name all too familiar to Benfica fans in Anderson Talisca. The Brazilian midfielder joined the Istanbul giants on a one year loan deal with an option to extend by another season. The 22-year-old may however, have to sit out the game against his former team depending on the clauses in his contract regarding playing former teams.
Besiktas are also closing in on deals for Manchester City star Samir Nasri as well as Porto forward Aboubakar.
The Istanbul giants finished last season as the leagues top goalscoring team but they will be without star striker Mario Gomez who found the back of the net 26 times following his move to Wolfsburg. The Germany intentional is undoubtedly a big miss but Besiktas had no trouble putting four past Adanaspor in the opening game of the season last weekend.
Besiktas have done well in European competition building upon the foundations laid by current West Ham boss Slaven Bilic. Over the past two seasons they have reached the quarter-finals and Round of 32 in the Europa League.
Benfica have won two European trophies but they were back in the 1960’s and ever since the curse of Bela Guttmann they have yet to lift another European title.
Regardless of whether they are cursed or not Benfica are by far the more experienced side in European competition regularly reaching the later stages of the Europa League.
Besiktas may be the Black Eagles but Benfica actually fly a live Eagle going into their games.
The battle of the Eagles may not be the first clash that comes to mind following the group stage draw but it is definitely a game to keep a close eye on.
Besiktas – 2016-17 season preview