Bayern Munich have been drawn against Turkish champions Besiktas in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. bundesliga.com looks at five reasons Senol Günes’ men should be very afraid of the Bavarian juggernaut…
1) The Lewandowski factor
Robert Lewandowski may be the deadliest striker in world football at the moment – with 52 goals in 52 games for club and country in 2017 – but he also has a long-standing habit of bullying Besiktas’ first-choice centre-back, Pepe.
Rewind five seasons and it was Polish hitman verus Portuguese hard man as Borussia Dortmund faced Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the 2013/14 Champions League. BVB thrashed the record European champions 4-1 in the first leg. Lewandowski got all four goals at the Signal Iduna Park. Pepe simply couldn’t get near him.
2) Besiktas’ Bundesliga angst
By defeating RB Leipzig in the group stage this season, Besiktas managed to break their decades-long duck against Bundesliga teams in European competition. Ever since they met Borussia Dortmund in the first round of the 1989/90 UEFA Cup Winner's Cup, marking their first official match against German opposition, they had not been able win a single match against a Bundesliga side until this season.
The Black Eagles faced Bayer Leverkusen in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup where they lost their sole group stage match and later went on to face Wolfsburg in the 2009/10 Champions League, where they drew in their first group stage clash before losing their second duel. Which leads us to their particular history against Bayern...
3) History on Bayern’s side
Bayern and Besiktas have faced off on the continent twice before, with the Bavarians beating the Turkish outfit 2-0 home and away in the 1997/98 season on the way to topping Group E ahead of Paris Saint-Germain. Mario Basler scored in the first of those ties; Carsten Janker in the second. Alongside them on the scoresheet both days was Thomas Helmer – the centre-back who retired with 46 goals to his name, 24 of them for Bayern.
4) Vidal vs. Medel, a close but clear Chilean contest
Bayern’s Arturo Vidal and Besiktas’ Gary Medel are instrumental for Chile’s golden generation, a team that denied Messi’s Argentina the Copa América 2015 title. Both are known for their strong character, both are unstoppable midfield engines. And yet, in a one-to-one contest there is little debate as to who would come out on top. “King” Arturo is quite simply in a different class compared to his countryman and friend.
Medel, affectionately (and accurately) known as “The Pitbull”, is a more defensive-minded player, known for being able to stop even the the most skilled dribblers. Sometimes he even alternates his midfield duties with the defensive line as a centre or right back. Vidal, on the other hand, is the full package: ball recovery, world-class touch and even a goal-scoring instinct that resulted in a four-game scoring streak in the Bundesliga this season.
Watch: Warrior Arturo Vidal is on fire
5) When “Prince” Quaresma became a Pauper
Besiktas’ hopes for an upset series win against the German champions rest on the shoulders of Ricardo Quaresma. However, the mercurial portuguese winger’s history against Bayern may mean that Turkish ambitions would be better placed elsewhere.
Quaresma was a key member in the FC Porto squad that faced the Bavarian giants, then under Pep Guardiola, in the quarter finals of the 2014/15 Champions League. In the first leg, “The Prince” scored a brace in a 3-1 home victory for his team.
The Dragons then visited the Allianz Arena with high hopes, but Bayern came out in force and by half-time were already leading 5-0. Quaresma was subbed off for the second half and watched helplessly as the home team sealed a 6-1 victory and a berth in the semi-finals.