Real Madrid v Galatasaray
The Turkish champions may have been written off as no-hopers going in to this two-legged matchup with the Spanish titleholders, but in actual fact Fatih Terim’s side have won on two of the three occasions in which they have met Los Blancos in Europe and they will hoping they may be able to take advantage of any signs of complacency amongst the men from the Spanish capital.
The outcome of this fascinating contest lies around whether Gala can both take what few opportunities come their way over the course of the two legs, while at the same time also somehow managing to stop Madrid’s much-vaunted attack.
And you get the feeling that with the first leg taking place at the Santiago Bernabeu, much will rest on how the Turks’ defence copes with Cristiano Ronaldo and Co, especially given the fact that Galatasaray just do not do clean sheets, whether that be domestically (just two in their last nine in the league) or on the Continent (only one in their previous eight ties).
However, were Gala able to come away without too much damage being done from the first leg, then they will very much fancy their chance of causing a monumental upset in the return match in Istanbul, where recent new marquee signings Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder should come into the reckoning.
You can be absolutely sure that both men will be desperate to get one over on their one-time mentor, Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who neither has faced since parting company with the Portuguese, and there could hardly be two better players with which to exploit Real’s known defensive weakness in the air.
The Spanish giants have conceded 48 percent of all their goals in La Liga from set pieces this season, the second-highest in the league, and 22% of all their top-flight goals when defending corners, the highest in the entire division. In all competitions this campaign, of the 48 goals which Madrid have let in, a whopping 16 have come from set-piece situations.
Now, the "Special One" may continue to deny the fact, but the statistics do not lie, telling a very different story that Galatasaray will be determined to exploit next month.