Beşiktaş gains more than two points against Zagreb

Beşiktaş Mogaz won against RK Prvo Plinarsko Društvo Zagreb with 32-30, securing its first win in VELUX EHF Champions' League. contributor Dr. Altay Atlı believes that what the Turkish side has gained is much more than the first two points in the competition.

“We knew that Beşiktaş would do this sooner or later. We only didn’t expect that this would happen to us.” This statement belongs to Veselin Vujović, trainer of RK Prvo Plinarsko Društvo Zagreb whom Beşiktaş Mogaz managed to beat in VELUX EHF Champions’ League Group A match. When Veselin Vujović uttered these words during the press conference after the match, all the Beşiktaş fans and Turkish handball lovers were celebrating the first win in the competition. But as Vujović said, we actually all knew that it was only a matter of time for Beşiktaş to achieve this success. Despite having lost the first five matches in the competition, Beşiktaş had demonstrated balanced game against all the opponents at least in certain parts of the matches. Remember the most recent away game against SG Flensburg-Handewitt; Beşiktaş gave such a hard time to the home team for most of the match. Although they could not win a single game, Beşiktaş had nevertheless demonstrated that they were not too different than the other teams in the group and that they actually belong in the Champions’ League. The only thing that was missing was a win, and this is now secured too.

  (Beşiktaş Mogaz ile PPD Zagreb press conference)

What Beşiktaş has gained against Zagreb is much more than two points. First of all the team has finally managed to overcome a psychological barrier. Beşiktaş has beaten Zagreb with a successful team play despite all the injuries and other negative influences. From now on, Beşiktaş players will be playing with a different mood; they will be much stronger mentally. They had already shown that they were of similar standing compared to other teams, and now they have confirmed it with a win. The opponent teams will be in a different state of mind as well when they face Beşiktaş. Paraphrasing Vujović, everybody knew what Beşiktaş “could do”, and now everybody knows what it “has done” as well. In brief, Beşiktaş has now entered a different phase in its VELUX EHF Champions’ League journey. From now on, we will be seeing a team with greater self-confidence, a team that does not only aim a win at every match but also achieve this actually. Opponent teams will not see Beşiktaş as the weakest link in the group anymore, they won’t see Beşiktaş as an easy rival against which they can play a relaxed game. They know now very well that what happened to Zagreb can actually happen to them too.


Against Zagreb, Beşiktaş demonstrated a successful team play in both offense and defense, and deserved to win the match. Although falling behind at the very beginning of the game, the home team managed to turn the tide very soon and took the lead as early as in the 8th minute, with 4-3. During the first half, Zagreb managed to balance the game after a time-out in the 17th minute and brought it to 10-10 by the 20th minute. However, Beşiktaş dominated the remainder of the first half, which concluded, with a score of 17-13. During the second half, Beşiktaş maintained the lead at all times, even widening it to five goals at a certain point. In the last few minutes, Zagreb did actually managed to narrow it down and when there was only 30 seconds left for the final buzzer, Beşiktaş was leading only by one goal. However, Beşiktaş did not allow Zagreb to do more, scored one more goal and won the game with 32-30.

During the entire game we have witnessed Zagreb having difficulties in offense against Beşiktaş’s defensive formation. Particularly in the first half Zagreb players had difficulties in establishing effective offensive flows, in several cases they had to take forces shots in sub-optimal positions most of which failed to find the target. In contrast, it was much easier for Beşiktaş to break through the Zagreb defense, which left large gaps to the opponent during the whole match. Ramazan Döne made the best out of these gaps; whenever he had the ball at the right back position he forced through the defense, finding himself face to face with the goalkeeper. He only seldom had to take shots from distance. Ramazan scored a total of 10 goals out of 11 shots, and only in once case his shot underneath the goalkeeper’s leg bounced from the ground hitting the bar. In every ball he received on the circle, Tolga Özbahar managed to find the net. He scored 5 goals with a 100 percent scoring rate. Predrag Dačević with 5 goals out of seven shots, and Nemanja Pribak with 4 goals out of five shots have been the other players contributing to Beşiktaş’s scoring power against Zagreb.


I would like to draw your attention to some interesting statistics. During the match 11 players form Zagreb managed to score at least one goal. The number of scorers on Beşiktaş’s side is 8, however 28 out of the total 32 goals were produced by five players only. During the entire match Zagreb used player rotations in order to change the tide and take the lead, and this is why so many players have scored goals. In the meantime, Beşiktaş could not do enough rotations to due injuries, however those who were on the field playing with a high scoring rate, and it was this performance that brought the victory to the Turkish side. For the five Champions’ League before the clash against Zagreb, Beşiktaş’s scoring rate average was 55.2 percent, but against Zagreb, Beşiktaş achieved a massive 70 percent. On the other hand, in these five games the opponents’ average scoring rate against Beşiktaş was 68 percent, and Beşiktaş managed to keep Zagreb at 60 percent. I think that these figures clearly reveal how it was possible to win the match against Zagreb.

We mentioned that in in this match, Beşiktaş managed to lower the opponent’s scoring ratio compared to previous matches. Of course successful defense has been crucial in this matter, but one player deserves special attention here: İbrahim Demir…

In the injury-related absence of Miroslav Kocić, who was signed after Yunus Özmusul’s move to the Bundesliga taking the role of the first goalkeeper of choice for Beşiktaş, the experienced İbrahim Demir was in the goal against Zagreb during the whole game. The saves he made at the most critical moments of the match have been a vital factor making it possible for Beşiktaş to main the goal difference and denying Zagreb the possibility to close down the gap even at times when Beşiktaş was a bit down in power. Good defense, good coordination between the goalkeeper and the defense, and a goalkeeper boosting the morale of his teammates with the saves he makes… Together with the high scoring rate, this good game in defense have contributed to Beşiktaş’s win against Zagreb.

Veselin Vujović, Zagreb’s highly experienced trainer, tried everything he can in order to change the tide for the favor of his team. During those periods when the team was down in number due to a suspended player he took the goalkeeper out in order to supplement the offense with an additional field player wearing a goalkeeper’s jersey. During the last ten minutes of the game he took great risks by having his team conduct a dynamic man-to-man defense against Beşiktaş. Actually the risk he has taken bore fruits albeit only to some extent. Zagreb managed to narrow the score difference to one goal, but when the referee blew the final whistle victory belonged to the team who played better.


Beşiktaş Mogaz has indeed gained more than two points against Zagreb proving to be a team of equal standing compared with the rest of the VELUX EHF Champions’ League. Starting with the next game, Beşiktaş will be facing opponents playing tougher because they all knew now that Beşiktaş can easily upset them if they do mistakes or take it too easy.

Let us conclude this article with the words of Ramazan Döne after the match. “We are strong enough to succeed in this group and qualify for the next round,” said Döne, Beşiktaş’s goal-scoring machine against Zagreb, “but I have to rebuke our fans, we really wished they were here today, we need them to support us more”. I strong-heartedly agree with what Döne says about Beşiktaş making it to the next round, because I have seen with my own eyes what Beşiktaş is capable of. Do you agree too? If you do, then listen to what Döne said next. There will be four more games Beşiktaş will play on its own court in Istanbul, and the spectator stands will be waiting for all Beşiktaş fans and Turkey’s handball lovers.

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