Schalke vs. Galatasaray: Could Turkish Side Be Dark Horses for Champions League?

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2013

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - MARCH 12:  Felipe Melo of Galatasaray celebrates next to Didier Drogba after the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Galatasaray AS at Veltins-Arena on March 12, 2013 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Galatasaray took their place in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League as they came from behind to beat Schalke in Germany and progress 4-3 on aggregate.

The Turkish side were not favourites to progress, having only managed a 1-1 draw in the first leg at home, but produced a spirited and clinical performance to see off the Germans and move into the last eight.

Even after Roman Neustädter gave Schalke the lead early on, Gala continued to be committed to their game plan; they needed a goal in the match in any case with Schalke having scored one of their own in Istanbul during the first leg.

A quickfire double from Hamit Altintop and Burak Yilmaz turned the tie on its head before half time, leaving Schalke needing two more strikes of their own to progress.

After a 10-second scramble which saw one shot hit the crossbar and another smothered by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, Michel Bastos made it 2-2 from close range, but Schalke couldn't find the third goal they needed to avoid going out on away goals.

And with only seconds of injury time remaining, and with Schalke committing more players forward, Gala broke on the counter, three against two, and Umut Bulut made it 3-2 at the second attempt to seal his team's progress.

Galatasaray might have made hard work to finally get past this stage of the competition, but they did not lack for quality and have added a couple of players to give their squad significant depth.

Nordin Amrabat, Sabri Sarioglu and Gokhan Zan are all talented enough to feature in the Champions League, and their appearance on the bench in this second leg is indicative of the strength in depth that Galatasaray now possess.

The sight of Didier Drogba, Wesley Sneijder, Felipe Melo and others on the pitch also show the great ability within the first team.

At either end of the pitch, Gala also have two very real match-winners; Muslera, in goal is capable of stunning saves, just as he showed against a Schalke team who had 26 shots, 12 of which were on target.

And then there is Burak Yilmaz.

His goal against Schalke in the second leg was his eighth in the competition this season, making him the UEFA Champions League's joint-top goalscorer with Cristiano Ronaldo—but Yilmaz has started one game less than the Real Madrid forward.

Nobody expects Galatasaray to go all the way and win the Champions League; indeed right now they are the longest shot to win it out of all the teams who have qualified for the quarterfinals.

They do, however, have a terrific home support, the players with the quality to beat teams in a one-off situation and enough of a surprise factor about them to upset one or two more names yet.

The draw for the last eight will determine much, of course, but don't presume too many sides will be happy to come out against Gala in the quarterfinals. They could just have a big part to play yet.

Match stats from