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)
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.
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.
|Dec 23||FT||Trabzonspor||0-0||Galatasaray||Super Lig|
|Jan 18||FT||Kasimpasa||2-1||Galatasaray||Super Lig|
|Jan 27||FT||Galatasaray||2-1||Besiktas||Super Lig|
|Feb 2||FT||Bursaspor||1-1||Galatasaray||Super Lig|
|Feb 10||FT||Galatasaray||2-0||Antalyaspor||Super Lig|
|Feb 15||FT||Akhisar Belediye||1-2||Galatasaray||Super 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 04: LWDLLD
|Dec 18||FT||Schalke 04||1-2||Mainz||DFB Pokal (Round of 16)|
|Jan 18||FT||Schalke 04||5-4||Hannover 96||Bundesliga|
|Jan 26||FT||FC Augsburg||0-0||Schalke 04||Bundesliga|
|Feb 2||FT||Schalke 04||1-2||SpVgg Greuther Furth||Bundesliga|
|Feb 9||FT||Bayern Munich||4-0||Schalke 04||Bundesliga|
|Feb 16||FT||Mainz||2-2||Schalke 04||Bundesliga|
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.
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 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.
0 - Schalke are yet to lose against Turkish opposition in the Champions League (2 wins 2 draws).
1 - 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.
5 - Galatasaray have failed to win any of their last 5 home games against German opposition.
7 - 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.