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Breaking Down Chelsea's Champions League Opponents Galatasaray

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Breaking Down Chelsea's Champions League Opponents Galatasaray
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

So Didier Drogba is returning to Stamford Bridge on March 18 next year when Galatasaray face Chelsea in the Champions League.

It's one of the stories of the last 16 draw that threw up plenty of other headlines, including Arsenal being drawn with European champions Bayern Munich for the second season running, while Manchester City will face Barcelona in arguably the tie of the round.

For Chelsea fans, nothing will beat Drogba's return, however.

Yet, when the dust settles and reality sets in, the Blues will realize they are very much in a game and face a difficult challenge against the Turkish champions.

Outside of Drogba, Galatasaray have a talented team that is capable of causing an upset, and if the sense of occasion gets to Jose Mourinho's team, it will run the risk of falling victim to Roberto Mancini's side.

So how did Gala get this far? Who is their danger man? What impact has Mancini had since joining the club? Bleacher Report brings you the lowdown on Chelsea's Champions League opponents.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

 

Danger Man

It's too easy to go with Drogba here. Sure, he's going to be the man who will grab all the attention, especially in the second leg at Stamford Bridge, but Galatasaray have threats elsewhere.

Wesley Sneijder is well known for his abilities in the No. 10 role, winning the Champions League himself while at Inter Milan in 2010 when his coach was none other than Mourinho.

Outside of that pair, Chelsea will need to pay close attention to Umut Bulut.

The striker is yet to find the back of the net in the league this term, but in Europe he has outscored any other Gala player, notching three goals in the group stages.

He has been more of an impact substitute, but if Chelsea are looking for where a potential threat may come outside of the usual suspects, they will be wise to keep an eye on Bulut.

Every season there is an unlikely hero, and Bulut will be hoping this year it is him.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

 

Manager

Roberto Mancini is a man who needs little introduction, especially to fans of English football.

The Italian guided Manchester City to the Premier League title in dramatic fashion in 2012 but a year later lost his job as manager when City failed to follow up their success with another league crown.

He joined Galatasaray in late September, with his first game coming against Juventus in the Champions League.

Gala drew that match 2-2 in Mancini's native Italy, and it proved a sign of things to come for the Turks, who have enjoyed a spell of good form under him, gradually getting their domestic season back on track.

Prior to his arrival, Gala had won just two league games all season under Fatih Terim. Mancini has put that form right, however, and while there remains much to do if they are to claw back Fenerbahce's 11-point lead at the top, the signs are there that they are more than capable.

His record against Chelsea is rather impressive, too. Mancini remains undefeated in his last five matches against the Blues, and during his four years at the Etihad Stadium, he lost just twice in 10 matches, winning seven.

It's an impressive record that Chelsea need to turn around, but if that wasn't enough, the Italian will be eager to prove a point or two to Jose Mourinho who replaced him as Inter Milan manager in 2008.

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

 

Group stage form

It was far from plain sailing for Galatasaray in the Champions League group stages, but from being on the brink of elimination, they were able to squeeze through Group B and earn the right to face Chelsea in the last 16.

Real Madrid had thumped Gala 6-1 and 4-1 in their two encounters, while the Turks also succumbed to a surprise 1-0 defeat away to Copenhagen on Matchday 4.

It meant everything came down to their final group match with Juventus with nothing but a win being good enough to send them through.

The tension was palpable at Turk Telekom Arena, although an impromptu snowstorm meant the game was abandoned after just 32 minutes with the match officials unable to see the pitch markings.

The game resumed the following day, starting from the 32nd-minute mark. And for the best part of an hour, it seemed Juve were going to get the point they needed to advance, only for Wesley Sneijder to score the winner with just five minutes remaining.

It was dramatic stuff, moving Galatasaray into second place in their group, and eventually earning them their last 16 tie with Chelsea.

 

Head-to-head

Chelsea and Galatasaray have faced each twice before in the Champions League, way back in 1999-00 when the Blues were experiencing elite European football for the first time in their history.

A Dan Petrescu goal had given the Blues a slender 1-0 victory in their first Group H meeting, but it was when Chelsea travelled to Istanbul for the return fixture that manager Gianluca Vialli got more than he bargained for.

Vialli's team blew Galatasaray away—quite literally. They won the game 5-0 with Tore Andre Flo scoring twice, while Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Wise and Gabriele Ambrosetti chipped in with the other goals to make it a night to remember.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes

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