Yesterday saw four heavyweights of Europe slug it out at the Fussbal Arena Munchen and the Parc des Princes. While some of tonight’s teams may not have as much star billing as Tuesday, both Real Madrid and Galatasaray will be relishing a chance to lock horns at the Santiago Bernabeu tonight.
Real Madrid: DWWWW
30/03/2013: Real Zaragoza, 1-1 (A), Primera Liga
16/03/2013: Real Mallorca, 5-2 (H), Primera Liga
10/03/2013: Celta Vigo, 2-1 (A), Primera Liga
02/03/2013: Barcelona, 2-1 (H), Primera Liga
The team from the Spanish capital are unbeaten in their last five games, building up a head of steam that sees them go without a defeat since they succumbed to a 1-0 loss away at Granada.
While victory in Spain is the norm for Jose Mourinho’s men, the Portuguese tactician has led his side to two very memorable victories in his last five games.
On the second of March, soon after dumping Barcelona out of the Copa del Rey, the Special One orchestrated a 2-1 victory over the Catalan club in Madrid. In a game which saw Cristiano Ronaldo benched for the good part of an hour, Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi swapped goals before Sergio Ramos popped up with a late winner.
Taking that good form to Old Trafford was pivotal, but despite the efforts of an excellent Diego Lopez, Real conceded first when Ramos put through his own net and then upped the ante very significantly after Luis Nani had been sent off for the hosts. A piledriver from substitute Luka Modric and a close-range finish from Ronaldo – who refused to celebrate his former club – booked Real passage in the quarter finals of the Champions League.
Twelve years ago, on this very day, Galatasaray beat the Galacticos of Real Madrid 3-2 at the old Ali Sami Yen Stadium. Goals from Ivan Helguera and Claude Makelele put Vicente del Bosque’s men ahead, but Hasan Sas, Umit Davala and Mario Jardel turned things around. Mourinho will be hoping for a repeat of a performance in that tie’s return leg at the Bernabeu, where Los Merengues brushed aside their opponents 3-0.
30/03/2013: Istanbul Buyuksehir BSK, 2-0 (H), Turkish Super Lig
17/03/2013: Kayserispor, 3-1 (A), Turkish Super Lig
12/03/2013: FC Schalke 04, 3-2 (A), UEFA Champions League
08/03/2013: Genclerbirligi, 0-1 (A), Turkish Super Lig
02/03/2013: Eskisehirspor, 0-0 (A), Turkish Super Lig
Like Real Madrid in Spain, Istanbul side Galatasaray are expected to win in Turkey. That is the norm. But fans of the historic club named after the Galata district (palace district) of the capital have a penchant for their side’s performances in Europe. A few wobbles in their last five fixtures leave them with a slender four-point advantage over second-placed Fenerbahce in Turkey, but what is on the horizon for Galatasaray is a blockbuster clash with one of Europe’s best.
They will therefore be looking for inspiration from their 3-2 away win against German side Schalke 04. Trailing through Roman Neustadter’s opener, Gala roared back with a blistering strike from former Schalke man Hamit Altintop before Burak Yilmaz gave them their second away goal. Michel Bastos equalised midway through the second half, but Umut Bulut’s 95th minute winner sent the away fans into peals of delight.
On the 25th of August in 2000, fresh from winning the UEFA Cup against Arsenal on penalties, Galatasaray would take another step towards ascending to the upper echelons of the European game by beating Real Madrid 2-1 in the UEFA Super Cup. Raul Gonzalez gave them an equaliser to Mario Jardel’s opener – both from penalties – before the Brazilian popped up to score the winner in extra time. Fatih Terim will be hoping his boys take inspiration from that game.
Although Iker Casillas is back with the squad after recovering from his hand injury, it remains unclear as to whether Mourinho will restore him to the starting eleven or keep faith with new arrival Diego Lopez, who has been excellent since his arrival from Sevilla last winter.
Both Raphael Varane (back) and Fabio Coentrao (muscular problems) missed the draw with Zaragoza over the weekend.
Squad (fr0m): Iker Casillas, Antonio Adán, Diego López, Raphaël Varane, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Fábio Coentrão, Ricardo Carvalho, Marcelo, Álvaro Arbeloa, Raúl Albiol, Nacho, Sami Khedira, Kaká, Mesut Özil, Xabi Alonso, Michael Essien, Juanfran, Luka Modrić, José Callejón, Ángel Di María, Jose Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuaín, Denis Cheryshev, Álvaro Morata
Probable Starting XI: Lopez; Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Khedira, Ozil, Alonso; Ronaldo, Di Maria, Benzema
Wesley Sneijder and Hamit Altintop are both in line for a return against their former club while Didier Drogba is fit for a return against his former mentor.
Engin Baytar and Aydin Yilmaz have not flown to Spain, but Swedish striker Johan Elmander is included in the squad as he steps up from his recovery following a foot problem which has kept him out since February.
Squad (from): Fernando Muslera, Eray İşcan, Ufuk Ceylan, Cris, Gökhan Zan, Ceyhun Gulselam, Dany Nounkeu, Hakan Balta, Semih Kaya, Emmanuel Eboué, Çağlar Birinci, Sabri Sarıoğlu, Hamit Altıntop, Selçuk İnan, Felipe Melo, Albert Riera, Wesley Sneijder, Yekta Kurtuluş, Emre Çolak, Nordin Amrabat, Johan Elmander, Didier Drogba, Milan Baroš, Burak Yılmaz, Umut Bulut, Sercan Yıldırım
Probable Starting XI: Muslera, Balta, Zan, Nounkeu, Eboue; Felipe Melo, Sneijder, Altintop, Riera; Yilmaz, Drogba
Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo
Who else can it be? The Portuguese sensation is capable of turning a game on its head with memerising skills that he makes look effortless. It’s not just his contributions to the team which matters, but the aura he exudes whenever he pulls on a team jersey. With a whopping 46 goals in competitions for his team, his threat on and off the ball makes him – as many will attest – an extremely fearsome weapon.
He has scored the bulk of his side’s goals in the Liga, having found the back of the net 28 times – the number of goals that Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria and Mesut Ozil have scored together. He is also joint top scorer with eight goals in Europe.
Galatasaray: Burak Yilmaz
The reason Ronaldo is only joint top scorer is because of this man. Having come to Galatasaray only last summer for a paltry fee of £5 million, Yilmaz was voted Player of the Group Stages of the UEFA Champions League because of the six goals he scored, playing a crucial role in securing qualification for the knockout stages of the tournament.
His team had scored a total of seven.
The 6’2″ attacker has been watched by scouts all over Europe this season and his 26 goals in all competitions are what make him Galatasaray’s main man ahead of the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Didier Drogba and Hamit Altintop.
Galatasaray are going from strength to strength in Europe. But tonight might just prove to be a bridge too far and an away goal for them here would be priceless.
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