Real Madrid vs. Galatasaray: Complete Champions League Preview

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Real Madrid vs. Galatasaray: Complete Champions League Preview

Real Madrid will be heavy favorites when they welcome Galatasaray into their Santiago Bernabeu home on Wednesday night.

Los Blancos have won the competition nine times and would possibly cut adrift their own mothers if it meant securing La Decima.

Their Turkish counterparts have never won the competition and haven't even reached this stage in over 10 years.

A January transfer blitz saw Gala radically improve their squad, though, and Jose Mourinho is unlikely to be underestimating them.

 

Team News 

Fatih Terim has close to a fully fit squad to pick from ahead of his side's match in Spain.

Former Atletico Madrid defender Tomas Ujfalusi is the only absentee, meaning Hamit Altintop and Wesley Sneijder will feature against their old side and Didier Drogba against his old boss.

Mourinho's Madrid are nearing full strength too.

Iker Casillas is back in training but isn't expected to feature, as Diego Lopez continues in goal.

Raphael Varane and Fabio Coentrao are both expected to start after recent knocks, and Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria should all return to the starting lineup after beginning Saturday's 1-1 draw at Zaragoza as substitutes.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Sneijder in his Madrid days

 

Form

Galatasaray have lost just once since January—a surprising defeat at home to Genclerbirligi in the league.

Around that defeat, they have won seven and drawn four games and sit four points clear in the Super Lig following back-to-back wins.

Despite a draw with Zaragoza at the weekend, Madrid are arguably in their best form of the season.

That draw brought to an end a six-game winning streak in La Liga, and, of course, there's recent wins over Barcelona and Manchester United supplying confidence to an expensive squad.

 

How They Got Here 

Gala scraped through their group behind Manchester United courtesy of their better head to head against CFR Cluj.

In the last 16, they beat Schalke. A disappointing 1-1 draw at the Turk Telecom Arena was followed up with an impressive 3-2 win in Germany to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

Los Blancos were also runners-up in their group, qualifying behind Borussia Dortmund.

Also like Gala, they drew the first leg of their last 16 tie 1-1 at home to Manchester United. At Old Trafford, though, they came from behind to win 2-1 and secure their place in the quarterfinals.

Lars Baron/Getty Images
Yilmaz is joint top scorer in the competition

 

Men to Watch 

 

Burak Yilmaz 

With eight goals in eight games, Burak Yilmaz is the joint leading scorer in the Champions League.

If the 27-year-old striker can add an away goal at the Bernabeu to his portfolio on Wednesday night, Gala fans may just love him more than they already do.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Also with eight goals, Cristiano Ronaldo is the man who ties the top spot for goals scored with the Turkish forward.

He scored two out of the three goals against Manchester United and will once again be Madrid's main man against Galatasaray.

 

Interesting Facts

  • Galatasaray players have been offered a €25,000 bonus by their president Unal Aysal should they prevail against Real Madrid (via Marca).
  • The same story suggests Los Blancos players will pocket €500,000 if they go on to win the competition.
  • For any number geeks, the Turkish side don't have any first-team players with No. 1- No. 3—Hamit Altintop is No. 4.
  • If Madrid make the semifinals, Mourinho would equal Sir Alex Ferguson's record of reaching that stage of the tournament seven times.

 

Probable Teams

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Alvaro Arbeloa, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao; Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Angel Di Maria, Mesut Ozil, Cristiano Ronaldo; Gonzalo Higuain

Galatasaray: Fernando Muslera; Emmanuel Eboue, Semih Kaya, Dany Nounkeu, Albert Riera; Hamit Altintop, Felipe Melo, Selcuk Inan; Wesley Sneijder; Didier Drogba, Burak Yilmaz

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