10 reasons why Chelsea should fear Galatasaray tonight
Published 26/02/2014 | 16:27
Three Champions League games featuring English teams, three 2-0 defeats. So can Chelsea provide a positive result - or even just get a goal?
The Blues are overwhelming favourites to take a step closer to the final in May ahead of their Round of 16 tie against Galatasaray, but the Turkish outfit should not be discounted.
While much of the pre-match talk has focused on Didier Drogba, who comes up against his former side, there are many more threats in Galatasaray's armoury.
We take a look at 10 things Jose Mourinho and his Premier League table-topping side should be wary of ahead of their visit to the Turk Telekom Arena.
1. Didier Drogba
It goes without saying - Didier Drogba is a player that will cause Chelsea's defence some major problems. He's scored 229 goals in a long and fruitful career, spanning six clubs and 16 years. Most of those goals, though, were scored at one club... Chelsea. His eight years in West London produced 100 goals, and he faces his old employer for the first time on Wednesday night.
Off-the-field, Galatasaray have pedigree too. Roberto Mancini left Manchester City in 2013 and headed for the slightly warmer climes of Istanbul to take over the Turkish champions. He has had a successful start to his tenure, taking Galatasaray beyond the group stages of the Champions League - a feat he was unable to achieve at City. A win against Chelsea would further enhance his reputation in Europe, and irritate Mourinho who he has a long running feud with.
3. Burak Yilmaz
This season, Burak Yilmaz has played 29 times for club and country, and has scored 15 goals... 7 more than Galatasaray's 'danger-man' Didier Drogba. Last season, he scored 34 goals in 43 games. He has netted five times in his last six appearances, and would love to continue in his rich vein of form in the Champions League on Wednesday. In that same competition, only three players have scored in six consecutive games: Cristiano Ronaldo, Marouane Chamakh... and Burak Yilmaz.
4. The Turk Telekom Arena
It's no Ali Semi Yen, but the TT Arena on the outskirts of Istanbul is no easy place to go. Compared to the all-together more partisan crowd at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea players and fans alike are in for a shock when they enter the home of the Turkish champions. It will be noisy and intimidating for the English side, as Galatasaray look to use their home advantage to get a result.
5. Wesley Sneijder
Since signing for Galatasaray just over a year ago, Wesley Sneijder has really made his mark on Turkish football. He won the Champions League in 2009/10 with Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho, and will face his old boss looking to take a step closer to achieving that feat for a second time. He has played for some big clubs around Europe - Real Madrid and Ajax to name two - and is likely to play in behind Yilmaz and Drogba on Wednesday night.
6. Gala league form
Mancini's men have won the Turkish Super Lig for two seasons in a row following their move to the TT Arena, and don't lose that often. Their derby win against Besiktas at the weekend will have helped their confidence significantly, and they have only lost one league match (vs leaders Fenerbahce) since October 6.
7. Felipe Melo
Juventus bought Felipe Melo in 2009 for a fee of £17.6m. After three years in Italy, he was loaned out to Galatasaray, and made his move permanent in the summer of 2012. Something of a journeyman, Melo has played for nine clubs over the duration of his career, but has impressed in his time in Turkey. An ever-present in the Galatasaray midfield, Melo is sure to cause some problems.
8. Inside Knowledge
There are many factors connecting the two sides ahead of Wednesday night's game, not least Didier Drogba's affinity with Chelsea. In his eight years at Chelsea, the Ivorian won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups, two League Cups, two Community Shields and one Champions League. Aside from that, Emmanuel Eboue played alongside Ashley Cole at Arsenal, and Wesley Sneijder played under Jose Mourinho at Inter Milan in 2009/10, helping eliminate Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate in the Round of 16 on their way to lifting the Champions League trophy that season.
9. Fernando Muslera
Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera is on many an English team's radar. Manchester City were rumoured to have been lining up a bid for the Uruguayan shot-stopper, and Galatasaray president Unal Aysal revealed that the club would consider bids in the region of £25m. The red half of Manchester have also been linked in the past, and Muslera is a top quality 'keeper that, in form, is more than capable of keeping a clean sheet.
How many times has it happened in the past? The underdog triumphs over the powerhouse, David beats Goliath. Stranger things have happened in football than Galatasaray beating Chelsea at the TT Arena. Of course, the last time the Blues made the trip to Istanbul, they triumphed 5-0, but anything can happen on Wednesday night, and with the strongest Galatasaray team for a long time, don't write off Mancini's side too soon.