Why Galatasaray Is the Dream Champions League Draw for Real Madrid
Could that have worked out any better for Jose Mourinho and his expensively assembled squad?
Despite recent wins over Barcelona and Manchester United putting Real Madrid's name back in the frame, there was still a certain amount of trepidation in the Spanish capital ahead of Friday morning's Champions League draw.
A poll ran online by Madrid-based paper AS revealed that 36 percent of Madridstas wanted Galatasaray in the quarterfinal—viewing the Turkish side as the easiest obstacle to overcome in their ruthless pursuit of La Decima.
That doesn't come as a complete surprise. After all, recent performances against the German duo have not been encouraging. Borussia Dortmund got the better of them in this season's group stage and Bayern Munich sent them tumbling at the semi-final stage last season.
Malaga have already beaten Los Blancos this season and matches against Barcelona always increase the pressure and intensity that extra few percent.
That left three teams, all of which are topping their domestic league—Juventus in Italy, PSG in France and Galatasaray in Turkey.
And so the draw unraveled and Real Madrid received their dream scenario, although they'd be naive to think that it means they now have a foot in the last four; this is the Champions League after all.
Real Madrid-Galatasaray, 03-04-2013.Galatasaray-Real Madrid, 09-04-2013.Kick-off: 20:45 CET. #halamadrid— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) March 15, 2013
Fatih Terim was allowed to add Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba to his squad in January, both whom have an association with Madrid, which will add to the background that all good cup ties tend to hinge on these days.
Like Michael Essien, Drogba is a disciple of Mourinho from his Chelsea tenure, while Sneijder used to play in white. Another Galatasaray player to previously feature at the Bernabeu—as recently as last season—is Hamit Altintop.
Connections aside, Burak Yilmaz has been enjoying an extended purple patch in front of goal and together with Didier Drogba will pose a threat to the Madrid back line that is different to what they face each week in La Liga.
They'll also have to deal with the inevitable difficulties that come with travelling to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena, which according to Guiness World Records boasts the loudest crowd in the World.
Galatasaray's stadium holds the record for being the loudest ground in the world. Madrid are in for some night, whatever the result...— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) March 15, 2013
Although the noises which emanated from the Spanish capital all pointed towards wanting Galatasaray, you can expect the comments from today to err on the side of caution.
In fact Emilio Butragueno has been quick off the mark in that respect, speaking to reporters immediately after the draw in Nyom where he was representing Real Madrid:
If [Galatasaray] have reached this stage it's because they have been capable of doing so. They put in a great effort against Schalke and got through that tie after not having had an easy time of it.
We will have to achieve a good result at home. The return leg is [in Istanbul] and we know how passionate their fans are.
Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba have made Galatasaray even stronger. We are quite far away from our objective in Liga so that makes [winning] the Champions League an even bigger motivation.
The last two seasons—since Mourinho took charge—have seen an improvement in the European performances, but they have still fallen short at the semifinal hurdle in the last two seasons—first to Barcelona and then to Bayern Munich.
It was 2002 when they last won this competition, since then, each year sees an increase in the fervor surrounding the two little words "La Decima."
The draw is the one they sought, but it is not the final.
What do you think? Will Galatasaray pose Madrid problems? Could they beat them?
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