While Tuesday's other Champions League match, Real Madrid facing Schalke, is decided at this point—Los Blancos won the first leg, 6-1—it's all up in the air between Chelsea and Galatasaray.
The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Turkey, as Fernando Torres scored in the ninth minute but Aurelien Chedjou equalized for Galatasaray in the 64th. While the main storyline for the first game was Didier Drogba facing his old club, in this contest, the main concern is which team will survive.
Chelsea certainly enjoy one major advantage in this one—they've lost just one game at home in all competitions this season, to Basel in the Champions League group stage. And they don't even need to win this game, as a scoreless draw would see them through since they would hold the advantage in away goals.
But Chelsea also lost over the weekend to Aston Villa, a crucial loss that once again left barely any separation between the Premier League's top four teams. Will that loss, and a grueling domestic campaign in general, weigh heavily on the minds of the Blues? Or will they recover from that disappointment by disposing of visiting Galatasaray?
When: Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. ET
Tuesday at 7:45 p.m. GMT
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
Drogba's return to Stamford Bridge will certainly be a bit emotional for the player (and likely the Chelsea supporters, as well). After all, Drogba made himself a legend with the club. He talked to Dirk Vermeiren of UEFA.com about his feelings when he heard Galatasaray would face Chelsea in the round of 16 and he would return to his old stadium.
I had mixed feelings. First of all I was happy to play against my ex-club, against my friends. But at the same time it is a very special moment because I do not know what my reaction will be. You know that I spent eight years at Chelsea, so I really don't know, I am quite apprehensive about it.
Chelsea will likely be without Ashley Cole for the match as he didn't train on Monday, according to Sky Sports, but David Luiz could return, giving the Blues a boost either in defense or perhaps in central midfield. Nemanja Matic certainly looked like he could have used a breather late in the match against Aston Villa after dominating the first half.
Still, the Blues are the heavy favorites here. They are the more talented side, are nearly impossible to beat at home, face a Galatasaray team that has really struggled away from home this year and, of course, have the ultimate puppeteer in Jose Mourinho leading the way.
Meanwhile, Galatasaray manager Roberto Mancini is out to prove he can succeed in the Champions League. From Steve Douglas of The Associated Press, via the Miami Herald:
Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini's poor record in the Champions League was one of the primary reasons why he was fired by Manchester City at the end of last season, a year to the day he led it to the Premier League title.
He never got the team out of the group stage, despite having one of the strongest squads in Europe at his disposal, and his tactics were often criticized. Mancini also failed to progress beyond the quarterfinals of the Champions League in a total of five attempts with Lazio and Inter Milan during his managerial spell in Italy.
Mancini, therefore, has a point to prove when he returns to England—where he still is popular with many City fans for leading the club back to the top of English football.
Don't expect Mancini to make many folks forget about Manchester City's failings in the Champions League under his tutelage in this match.
A 1-1 draw at home for Galatasaray was essentially a loss, since Chelsea now need only to hold them scoreless to win this match. Chelsea are the best defensive team in the Premier League and are at their best when they can either control possession and build up play slowly, or sink back defensively and spring against teams hard on the counter-attack.
Galatasaray doesn't have the luxury of caution in this contest, needing to either win, earn a 1-1 draw to force extra time or a 2-2 draw to go ahead on away goals. That plays directly into Mourinho's hands, as he'll probably play a defensively sound starting 11 and tell his team to look for offense by springing players like Eden Hazard on the counter-attack.
Drogba may yet have some Champions League magic in him, and the Blues certainly don't have a forward that can grab this game by the scruff of the neck like Drogba can. But in Hazard, Oscar and Willian, they do have attacking midfielders who can change the course of a game if given any daylight at all to operate in.
Gala needed to win in Turkey. Failing to do so will be their downfall. Chelsea wins, 1-0.
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