Real Madrid go into tonight’s Champions League quarter-final first leg clash against Galatasaray as heavy favourites to go through to the semis.
However, take a closer look at the Galatasaray team and you see the task ahead for Jose Mourinho’s men might not just be as it easy as it seems.
The vast amount of experience that abound in the Galatasaray team shows just how much Madrid cannot afford to underestimate the Turkish Super Lig champions.
In Fatih Terim, Galatasaray have a highly experienced manager who has previously managed AC Milan, Fiorentina and the Turkish national team. The “emperor” (as Terim is known in Turkey) also has an impressive CV having won the Super Lig five times, two domestic cups and the UEFA cup.
It is also noteworthy to remind Madrid fans that Fatih Terim was in charge when Galatasaray defeated a Madrid team that paraded the likes of Luis Figo, Raul and Claude Makelele in the UEFA Super Cup in 2000 and masterminded another 3-2 victory against Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals a year later.
Currently in his third stint as manager of the club, Terim has been able to blend a crop of young home grown talents with highly experienced players from around Europe.
In defence, they have two former Premier League stars in Emmanuel Eboue and Albert Riera who have combined well with Turks, Semih Kaya and Gokhan Zan to form a quite impressive back four in front of Uruguayan goalkeeper, Fernando Muslera.
Felipe Melo, Hamit Altintop and former Champions League winner Wesley Sneijder all bring large amounts of experience to the midfield alongside Selcuk Inan whose creativity and incredible passing has led many to liken him to the Barcelona midfield maestro, Xavi.
Inan linked up well with Melo in last season’s title winning campaign and will play an important role if Galatasaray are to spring a surprise at the Santiago Bernabeu.
But it is in the attack where Galatasaray looks most fearsome, as they possess the competition’s joint top scorer in Burak Yilmaz. Yilmaz has scored 28 goals this season - including eight Champions League goals - in 677 minutes of competition football - the most prolific scoring rate in the competition.
The January acquisition of Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba has only helped in improving Yilmaz‘s form with the striker scoring nine times in nine games since the Ivorian’s arrival. Madrid’s back four will sure have a hard time dealing with him as he rips defences apart with astonishing ease.
Galatasaray are definitely underdogs going into this tie on paper, but underestimating Fatih Terim’s men might prove to be Madrid’s greatest undoing as they have a team that is more than capable of causing an upset, the same way they did twelve years ago.
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