Friday 19 December 2014

Turkish trip gives Bale tough return to Euro action

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Published 17/09/2013 | 05:00

Gareth Bale will make his first Champions League appearance for more than two years tonight if selected for Real Madrid's tricky looking visit to Galatasaray.

Bale scored on his Madrid debut on Saturday, as his side drew 2-2 at Villarreal. Pressure for success is constant at the Bernabeu, especially after a summer in which they have spent £135m on Bale, Isco and Asier Illarramendi.

Carlo Ancelotti's side will have to start well in Europe – they have Juventus in their group.

Galatasaray have Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder in their ranks and reached the quarter-finals last year, where they were beaten 5-3 by Madrid over two legs.

In the other game in the group, Copenhagen host Juventus. After two consecutive Serie A titles, and the signings of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, Juventus should make a serious impression in Europe this year. They drew 1-1 at Inter on Saturday.

Bayern Munich begin their defence of the title tonight with a home game against CSKA Moscow. They have started well enough since Pep Guardiola replaced Jupp Heynckes, but are two points behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga after a lacklustre 2-0 home win over Hannover on Saturday.

The other game in Manchester United's group is between Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Shakhtar were excellent last season, reaching the last 16 – where they lost 5-2 on aggregate to Dortmund. Fernandinho, Razvan Rat and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all left, with another set of talented young South Americans stepping in, including Atletico Mineiro's Bernard and Internacional's Fred.

In Group C, big-spending Paris Saint-Germain travel to Olympiakos, while in the other game Benfica, who lost the Europa League final to Chelsea in May, host Anderlecht. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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