Galatasaray back to European stage with Braga match
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray’s Swedish forward Johan Elmander vies for the ball against Manchester United’s Brazilian defender Rafael during the two teams’ Champions League meeting. Galatasaray takes on Portugal’s Braga in the competiton tonight. AA photoGalatasaray hopes to collect its first points in the Champions League when it hosts Braga in the Champions League tonight.
The Lions’ meeting against Braga is their first home game in the top European competition after six years.
The last time Galatasaray hosted a home Champions League game in Istanbul was on Sept. 29, 2006, when it beat Liverpool 3-2 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium. That result did not save Galatasaray from finishing bottom of their group, but this time hopes are higher.
Galatasaray lost its first game in Group H to Manchester United 1-0, but it was praised for its performance against the English giants.
However, Galatasaray, who have made a flying start to the Turkish championship with four wins in five games, experienced its first failure in the domestic competition with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Orduspor on Sept. 28.
Despite the defeat, coach Fatih Terim did not struggle to see the positives. “There is some damage done, psychologically and physically, with Hamit Altıntop picking up an injury,” Terim said after the game. “But there is a positive in everything and we will have a different squad [against Braga].”
It was later revealed that Turkish midfielder Altıntop’s injury was not as serious as feared and the former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid ace is fit to face Braga. Umut Bulut, who did not start after being injured against Manchester United, will also be available for selection.
“[The defeat to] Orduspor can be compensated,” Terim said. “But the game against Braga is crucial.”
Braga suffered a bitter 2-0 defeat to CFR Cluj of Romania on the first night in the Champions League, so the team will try to get at least one point at the Türk Telekom Arena to avoid getting left behind in the Group H.
United unleashes big guns
Cluj hosts Manchester United in the other game of the group tonight. Manchester United is likely to unleash the mouthwatering strike partnership of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney for the first time.
With Rooney fit after a month out injured, United manager Alex Ferguson has the luxury of partnering his top two strikers against Cluj, the Associated Press reported.
Not only will the Romanians have to deal with the two stars, it also has to face the wrath of a team desperate to make amends for a 3-2 loss to Tottenham in the league. The defeat showed that while United may have one of the most devastating strike-forces in Europe, its defense without Nemanja Vidic is vulnerable.