Beşiktaş in stern test against Monaco
Turkey’s Beşiktaş is out to maintain its perfect Champions League group stage record against France’s Monaco at the Stade Louis II on Oct. 17, days after a sharp fall in the domestic campaign.
The game offers the Istanbul side, which won the first two games against Porto and Leipzig respectively, a chance to break its record of highest points in group stages, which is only seven.
Brazilian Anderson Talisca and Dutch Ryan Babel have led the way for the Group C leader, scoring in both matches so far—and could exploit Monaco’s troubles, with last season’s semi-finalists having picked up just one point from their first two games.
Monaco’s Djibril Sidibé is a booking away from a ban as Beşiktaş’s Caner Erkin will incur a suspension with his next booking.
Beşiktaş’s interest in European competition last term ended when another French opponent, Olympique Lyon—which included Rachid Ghezzal now of Monaco—won its UEFA Europa League quarter-final 7-6 on penalties after a 2-1 first-leg home victory for the French club was replicated in Istanbul.
Beşiktaş is encouraged by the European record so far, but fans are concerned over losses in the Turkish Super League, as the defending champion bowed 2-1 to Gençlerbirliği under the relegation line in Ankara in the opening game of the week on Oct. 13. Thus, the Black Eagles dropped to the sixth spot from second behind a strong Galatasaray.
However, rival Monaco also tasted the pain the same day when Olympique Lyonnais Nabil Fekir struck deep into stoppage time to earn the home side a 3-2 win in Ligue 1.
Porto, meanwhile, impressed in winning 3-0 at Monaco on match day two, and will look to capitalize at Leipzig.
Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City would be “stupid” to expect an easy outing against Napoli in the Champions League on Oct. 17, just because it thumped Stoke City 7-2 in the Premier League over the weekend.
Napoli tops the Serie A table with eight wins from as many games and sits third in Group F in the Champions League behind leaders City and Shakhtar Donetsk after a 2-1 opening loss to the Ukrainian side and a 3-1 win over Feyenoord.
Guardiola’s side are unbeaten pace-setters in the English top flight with seven wins from eight games. It showed its might against Stoke but the Spanish manager suggested Napoli would not crumble under pressure.
“Of course, if they think that, they will be stupid. That isn’t going to happen. I am going to show them [Napoli] to my players—how good they are. Napoli can kill you with the high pressing. They are able to press our keeper. I am very happy to have the opportunity to play this kind of game,” Guardiola told British media.
City began their European campaign with a 4-0 win over Dutch side Feyenoord and followed it up with a routine 2-0 result over Shakhtar.