It's part two of Expedition Europa! After opening their campaign with a 1-1 draw against AS Monaco, Die Roten Bullen are now preparing to play in their second game of the Champions League group stages against Besiktas.
Before the game, we've profiled the current Turkish champions.
Günes instrumental to their success
Without a doubt, Istanbul is the capital of Turkish football. The three main clubs from the city - Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş - have won 54 league titles out of the 61 Süper Lig seasons. Galatasaray have won the most (20), while Fenerbahçe und Beşiktaş follow with 19 and 15 respectively. However, Beşiktaş have won the last two titles in 2016 and 2017.
Şenol Güneş has been at the heart of this recent success. He's been in the dugout since 2015 and lead the team to ttwo straight titles. His biggest asset is his wealth of experience. He's the oldest manager in the Champions League this year at 65 years old. He was the Turkish national team's head coach from 2000 until 2004, and lead them to a third placed finish in the 2002 World Cup.
great start to the champions league
Beşiktaş have become somewhat of a regular fixture on the European stage in recent years. Even when they didn't do enough to win the title, they weren't far off. That was also the case for them in the Champions League last season, when they missed the knockout stages by a point. As a result, they went through to the last 16 of the Europa League, before being knocked out by Lyon in the quarter finals on penalties.
This season, Beşiktaş have made a great start to their Champions League campaign after beating Porto 3-1 away from home. Talisca, Cenk Tosun and Ryan Babel were the scorers for the home side. As a result, they now lead the pack in Group G.
Their league form has been very good as well, after winning 4 games and drawing one. Their first loss came on the weekend against rivals Fenerbahçe 2-1. Ryan Babel was again on the scoresheet in the losing effort, and they're now in third place.
Portuguese star power
The most well known player for Leipzig's opponents is their captain, Pepe. Before the 34-year-old moved to Istanbul in the summer, he had a ten year stint with Spanish giants Real Madrid, winning three Champions League titles in that time.
The other Portugal international is Ricardo Quaresma. The winger, who will turn 34 on the day of the game with Leipzig, hails from the talent factory Sporting Lisbon, where Leipzig's own Bruma was also developed. Quaresma was Beşiktaş' top scoere in last year's Champions League with three goals. The Portuguese duo were also part of the Portugal team that won the EURO 2016.
Apart from the Portuguese pair, Beşiktaş also welcomed two further signings in the summer transfer window. Chile international Gary Medel arrived from Inter Milan, while Alvaro Negredo came from Valencia.
Seven of the current Beşiktaş squad have roots in either the Bundesliga or 2. Bundesliga:
- Tolgay Arslan (Hamburger SV)
- Gökhan Töre (Hamburger SV)
- Cenk Tosun (Eintracht Frankfurt)
- Ryan Babel (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim)
- Dusko Tosic (Werder Bremen)
- Orkan Cinar (Greuther Fürth)
- Atinc Nukan (RB Leipzig)
However, Atinc Nukan has unfortunately torn his ACL, and will be out for the remainder of the year. We wish you a swift recovery, Atinc!
Tosun was the Turkish league's top scorer last year with 22 goals. The 26-year-old was developed at Eintracht Frankfurt, but he could never break through to the first team. He moved from Eintracht to Gaziantepspor in 2011, and then to Beşiktaş in 2014. He has also made it into the Turkish national side in that time.
Beşiktaş have a long history of being lead by German coaches. Karl-Heinz Feldkamp, Hans-Peter Briegel, Christoph Daum and Bernd Schluster have all had spells with the club.
Germany players like Mario Gomez, Fabian Ernst and Roberto Hilbert have also represented the club.
poor RECORD AGAINST german OPPOSITION
Beşiktaş have played German sides seven times on the European stage, and have lost six times. The only point they've won against a German side was in a 0-0 draw against Wolfsburg in the 2009/2010 Champions League. The cumulative goal difference in all of the games is minus 10.
reunion for babel
Beşiktaş attacker Ryan Babel played for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the 2011/2012 season, and played with Marvin Compper and Dominik Kaiser while he was there. While he was a Liverpool player from 2007 until 2011, he was also a teammate of RBL's goalkeeper Peter Gulácsi.