Galatasaray to face off with Real in tough test
MADRID - Anatolia News Agency
Hamit Altintop of Galatasaray celebrates his goal against Schalke 04 during their Champions League tie in Gelsenkirchen on March 12. REUTERS photoGalatasaray visits Real Madrid in probably its most game in a decade tonight. The Turkish titleholder will play at the famous Santiago Bernabeu to meet its Spanish counterpart in the Champions League quarterfinal first leg.
Coached by Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid eyes winning its 10th Champions League crown, especially after it seemingly failed in its La Liga title defense.
However, Fatih Terim’s men have grabbed the headlines of late as they followed up the acquisitions of Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba in January by beating Schalke 4-3 on aggregate to reach the last eight for the first time in 12 years.
Real Madrid’s coach Jose Mourinho praised his colleague Fatih Terim to the skies at the pre-match press conference April 2. “Galatasaray has a great coach, who I admire a lot. Fatih Terim is very experimented in such high-level encounters. I’m sure that he will organize his team perfectly, both offensively and defensively,” Mourinho said, while describing Terim as “a friend.”
The Portuguese coach emphasized the importance of the first game in Madrid, noting that a tricky return match in front of 50,000 fans was awaiting his team. “We want a result that will enable us to tackle the game in Turkey more comfortably,” he said.
For his part, Terim said they did not fear defeat. "If Real Madrid wins, it will not be a surprise, however if we win it will be a surprise for everybody. So our biggest weapon will be to not fear defeat,” he said.
“They have recruited very well and it is never easy against Turkish teams because they always play with a lot of passion,” he told Champions Magazine.
“Drogba and Sneijder are players of the highest level but they have also worked well as a team. They have Yılmaz in attack, who has continuously scored goals, and a great defense.
“They are very strong and we cannot underestimate them. If we do, we could be eliminated.”
Eyes will also be on Drogba, who made his debut in Europe’s elite club competition at Real’s Bernabeu stadium in September 2003 playing for Marseille.
Although he scored to put Marseille ahead in the 26th minute, goals from Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo and a double from Brazilian Ronaldo fired Real’s “Galacticos” to an easy 4-2 group stage victory.
“It will be very special for me, I will never forget that day,” Drogba was quoted as saying in Galatasaray’s club magazine this week.
“It was very important for my career,” added the former Chelsea player.
Drogba was Chelsea’s key performer on their run to a first Champions League triumph last season before quitting the London club for a stint in China and then moving to Turkey.
He struck the winning penalty in the final shootout against Bayern Munich having earlier kept Chelsea in the match with a crashing header two minutes from the end of regular time that levelled the score at 1-1.
“I just grabbed this chance to be able to play at the highest level in Europe again without thinking,” he said. “That’s why I am here. To have the opportunity to win again.”
Tonight’s clash, the fourth between the clubs in UEFA competition, also pits Drogba against his former Chelsea manager Mourinho, who is bidding to lead Real to the 10th European crown that has eluded the club since 2002. The pair were together at Stamford Bridge from 2004 to 2007 and won Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.
Drogba said Mourinho and his Galatasaray counterpart Fatih Terim were excellent motivators.
“Fatih Terim is a lot like Mourinho in that he is very close to the players and always talking with them,” he said.
“The psychological factor is very important in soccer and Terim is very meticulous in that respect.”