Galatasaray played Schalke to a 1-1 draw in one of the more lackluster matchups in the first knockout stage of the Champions League, and the contest lived up to expectations. But that’s not a good thing.
Burak Yilmaz continued his fantastic form in front of the net in the 12th minute and put the Turkish side ahead, but Jermaine Jones knocked in a crucial away goal just before halftime to round out the scoring for the fixture.
The matchup will move to Germany, with Schalke holding the slightest of advantages.
However, the two sides’ inability to separate themselves from one another confirmed suspicions that neither is ready for a more formidable challenge.
While neither side is thought of as a threat to win the competition, both received favorable draws and avoided a matchup with one of the favorites in the first stage. The winner only needs to play conservative tactics and hope for a little luck to become a surprise semifinalist.
As AC Milan’s remarkable 2-0 victory over Barcelona shows, disciplined defending and a touch of good fortune can produce astounding results.
But, barring a drastic turnaround in one of these team’s form, both will be a speed bump on the road to the semifinals for one of the stronger Champions League sides.
It was ultimately a disappointing showing for both Schalke and Galatasaray, although the Turks faced higher expectations today.
After bringing Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba in during the winter transfer window, Galatasaray’s European campaign was bolstered by top talents who have both played large rolls for teams that hoisted the Champions League trophy.
However, neither made a dramatic impact on this match.
Does either of these teams have a chance to reach the semifinals?
While Schalke lost Lewis Holtby in January, it was able to hold on to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. This gives the team the powerful, potent striker it needs to grab a crucial goal when chances are sparse—as they will be against a top team in the next round.
But Huntelaar was also not much of a factor in the game against Galatasaray, even though his side was able to maintain its unbeaten record in this season’s UCL games.
If either of these teams is capable of putting on an inspired performance in the quarterfinals, it was not evident in this fixture. Schalke managed to put just two of its 15 shots on goal, while Galatasaray earned just one goal from the six shots it put on frame.
It will take nearly flawless matches from key players for either of these teams to remain competitive against teams such as Manchester United, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.
Carelessness in front of goal will ensure defeat against any one of these sides.
While there is the slight possibility the winner of this matchup could luck out in the draw again, it is not something either should count on.
The team that wins the next leg should enjoy the victory. Once a European giant lines up against either of these sides, there will not be any more cause to celebrate.