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Champions League Match Preview: Galatasaray vs Schalke 04

FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 20 Feb 2013, 19:35 IST
Preview
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Place : Ali Sami Yen Spor Komleksi Türk Telekom Arena, Istanbul, Turkey

Time: Wednesday 19:45 GMT, 20:45 CET, Thursday 01:15 IST (will be telecast on Ten Sports in India)

Referee: William Collum (Scotland)

FBL-TUR-GALATASARAY-DROGBA

The tie between Galatasaray and Schalke may not have the charm as some of the other ties in the round of 16 of the Champions League, but it should still produce some brilliant footballing displays. Schalke, in recent years, have put together a formidable squad, while the much anticipated debuts of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder in the Champions League for Galatasaray will provide the zing in the contest.

This will be the first time Drogba will take to the field in the Champions League after hitting the winning penalty in last season’s final. An unsuccessful spell with Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua was followed by the Ivorian hitman returning to European competition, and much of the attention would fall upon what he and Wesley Sneijder can conjure up for the Turkish giants.

Both Sneijder and Drogba have previously been on teams triumphing in this competition. Drogba won the trophy last season playing a vital role in the campaign for the Blues, while the Dutch midfielder lifted the trophy with Inter Milan in 2010.

Schalke will be up against it, with a number of players sidelined due to injuries and key midfielder Lewis Holtby now plying his trade at Tottenham. On top of the strengthened Galatasaray team, the Ali Sami Yen Spor Komleksi Türk Telekom Arena is one of the most hostile environments for any visiting teams. Unlike games like in which Celtic and Arsenal were involved, the home advantage may be vital in the two-legged tie.

Galatasaray Devil Field Against Manchester United

While Galatasaray will be favourites, Schalke’s record away to Turkish opposition (both 3-3 draws) should give them the confidence to pull off a result. Expect a tight game, even though the likes of Drogba, Yilmaz and Huntelaar should shine.

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FORM

GALATASARAY: DLWDWW

Dec 23FTTrabzonspor0-0GalatasaraySuper Lig
Jan 18FTKasimpasa2-1GalatasaraySuper Lig
Jan 27FTGalatasaray2-1BesiktasSuper Lig
Feb 2FTBursaspor1-1GalatasaraySuper Lig
Feb 10FTGalatasaray2-0AntalyasporSuper Lig
Feb 15FTAkhisar Belediye1-2GalatasaraySuper Lig

The recent win over Akhisar Belediye, which saw both Sneijder and Drogba come off the bench to score one goal a piece and lead them victory, will give them a lot of confidence. The victory meant that the red and gold extended their lead to six points at the top of the Turkish Super Lig over their fierce rivals Fenerbahce.

The Turkish Giants have lost only once in their last 10 games in the domestic league, but unlike their German opposition, booked their place in the knockout rounds on the last matchday of the group stage courtesy of a win over Manchester United, who had already qualified.

SCHALKE 04LWDLLD 

Dec 18FTSchalke 041-2MainzDFB Pokal (Round of 16)
Jan 18FTSchalke 045-4Hannover 96Bundesliga
Jan 26FTFC Augsburg0-0Schalke 04Bundesliga
Feb 2FTSchalke 041-2SpVgg Greuther FurthBundesliga
Feb 9FTBayern Munich4-0Schalke 04Bundesliga
Feb 16FTMainz2-2Schalke 04Bundesliga
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The German side has been on a dismal run of late, which has seen them drop to ninth in the Bundesliga table. New manager Jens Keller, who took over from Huub Stevens in December, is yet to see much success. One win in their last 14 certainly does their confidence no good coming into the game.

Keller’s men will have to look at their early season Champions league performances to draw inspiration from. An unbeaten campaign in the group stages, which included a 2-0 victory at the Emirates over Arsenal, now seems a long time ago.

TEAM NEWS

GALATASARAY

As stated earlier, the game is likely to hand out European debuts to Galatasaray’s star duo of Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba. 

Tomas Ujfalusi and Johan Elmander are expected to miss the game due to injuries.

SCHALKE 04

Schalke would welcome the sight of their top-scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar back in the fold. The Dutchman is expected to return after having troubles with an eye injury in recent weeks.

However, they will be without the services of a large number of key men such as Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Atsuto Uchida, Ibrahim Afellay and Ciprian Marica, all of whom have been sidelined by injuries.

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STATS AND FACTS

0 - Schalke are yet to lose against Turkish opposition in the Champions League (2 wins 2 draws).

- This will be the first ever competitive meeting between the sides.

3 – The Germans have reached the knockout stage for the competition for the third time, after 2007/08 and 2010/11.

4 – Klaas Jan-Huntelaar, who should be back for the Germans, has scored 4 in 5 starts in the group stage.

- Galatasaray have failed to win any of their last 5 home games against German opposition.

- The Turkish side only scored 7 goals in the 6 group stage matches. Joint lowest amongst the 16 teams that qualified. Six of them were from Burak Yilmaz.

12 - Its been 12 years since Galatasaray reached the last eight stage of the competition.

39 - Didier Drogba has found the back of the net on 39 occasions in the Champions League. Only Lionel Messi(56) and Cristiano Ronaldo(44) have scored more in the competition among active players.

Published 20 Feb 2013, 19:35 IST
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