Chelsea vs. Galatasaray: Latest Team News, Key Battles and Predictions

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Chelsea vs. Galatasaray: Latest Team News, Key Battles and Predictions
Emrah Gurel/Associated Press

Chelsea take on Galatasaray in tonight's Champions League match, knowing that a goalless draw could be enough to see the Blues progress after drawing 1-1 in Turkey with an away goal.

However, with Didier Drogba in their ranks, the Turkish side's striking options receive a big boost, as the Ivorian forward returns to his old stomping ground.

Plenty of key battles in this clash, too, as a place in the quarter-finals remains at stake.

 

Team News

Sang Tan/Associated Press

According to BBC Sport, the hosts will be able to include midfielders Ramires and Willian in their starting line-up.

The pair both saw red during the Blues' 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa. However, both have been cited as available for the visit of Roberto Mancini's men.

No such good luck for left-back Ashley Cole, who did not train before the match due to a knee injury.

David Luiz did train, though, putting himself into contention for a start since Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are cup-tied.

Emrah Gurel/Associated Press

Drogba is expected to start in the match, but according to WhoScored.com, the side will be without Aydin Yilmaz, Eray Iscan and Emre Colak.

Semih Kaya and Fernando Muslera may also miss the match, but the visitors may be boosted by the return of Yekta Kurtulus.

 

Key Battles


Didier Drogba vs. John Terry

Sang Tan/Associated Press

The Chelsea talisman returns to Stamford Bridge as his side look to progress further toward the Champions League final.

It may be a warm welcome for the forward from the stands, but no love will be lost on the pitch.

Chelsea's John Terry will provide a strong test to Drogba, as former team-mates turn enemies for 90 minutes.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, per a tweet from the Daily Telegraph's Henry Winter, Terry believes that Drogba deserves full respect on the night:

However, it'll be Terry who will have to watch Drogba closely during the match, being sure to cast sentimentality aside after kick-off and not give the striker an inch.

 

Wesley Sneijder vs. Ramires

Uncredited/Associated Press

Dutch international Wesley Sneijder will look to be his team's creative force as kick-off approaches.

The 29-year-old midfielder has scored two goals in this year's contest, per WhoScored, sitting just one behind striker Umut Bulut.

It'll be key for Ramires to keep a watch on Sneijder, who will be looking to spray the ball in trademark fashion as he pulls the strings in midfield.

However, the Blues' holding player must be careful to not over-commit to Sneijder, as Galatasaray's midfield is littered with talent.

Uncredited/Associated Press

Felipe Melo's 86 percent passing accuracy during the first leg, per WhoScored, shows that he is just one of a number of outlets for the Turkish club.

But with Sneijder used to playing just behind Drogba and Burak Yilmaz, it will have to be a team effort to help Ramires keeps the visitors at bay.

 

Eden Hazard vs. Emmanuel Eboue

Rui Vieira/Associated Press

Playing in the first bout as part of an attacking trio with Willian and Andre Schurrle placed just behind Fernando Torres, Hazard found most of his luck on the left wing.

Former Arsenal right-back Eboue has started 14 of Galatasaray's 25 league matches per WhoScored, with one goal helping to lift the side to second spot in the Turkish Super Lig.

He will have to tread carefully against the mercurial Hazard, though, who will be out to give the defender a rough ride back in England.

The Belgian looks to write a new chapter at the club under the stewardship of Mourinho, according to UEFA.com's Louis Laffitte:

When a person [like Mourinho] says good things about you, wants the best out of you, it's always a good thing. It shows that you're on the right track and that you still have a lot to accomplish, because talent is good but you can do better. It is up to me now to work hard in order to reach the best possible level, and that can be through training and games.

It's not that he makes me improve or anything. He lets people do their own thing, he gives a lot of confidence to his players, he motivates us with small statements, small sentences in the newspapers or face to face. I think I am giving that back to him on the pitch. As I often say, I hope it will last.

Hazard's creativity will be a major outlet for Chelsea on the night, and it'll be up to Eboue to keep the hosts' talisman quiet and limit his opportunities to spark his side into life.

 

Predictions

Uncredited/Associated Press

This match will be won or lost in midfield, with a host of defensive and attacking players dictating play for their respective sides.

Sneijder and Melo will be providing harmony for Galatasaray, while Chelsea's lone-striker model with Torres playing on his own means five in the pack for the Blues.

But ultimately goals win games, and Galatasaray will make Chelsea pay.

Lars Baron/Getty Images

Torres scored after nine minutes in the first leg, but to ask him to lead the line again with Drogba's firepower at the other end makes for a tall ask of the Spaniard.

Who will progress?

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Mourinho may opt to start Samuel Eto'o up front after he started—and scored—in the 4-0 win over Tottenham.

However, with Drogba returning to a ground where he was once prolific, it'll be his contribution that proves telling between the sides as Galatasaray romp on towards the quarter-finals.

Prediction: Chelsea 1-2 Galatasaray (2-3 aggregate)

 

Follow me @DanBrett90 for more reaction, insight and analysis on the beautiful game.

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