Galatasaray eyes Europa League miracle against Barça

Galatasaray eyes Europa League miracle against Barça

Galatasaray eyes Europa League miracle against Barça

Istanbul club Galatasaray will host Spanish giant Barcelona in a Europa League last 16 match on March 17, hoping to beat the odds.

Having held Barcelona to a goalless draw at the Camp Nou in the first leg, Galatasaray has the chance to atone for a disappointing domestic season by knocking out the Catalan giant and reaching the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

A 2-1 win over defending champion Beşiktaş on March 14 in a Turkish Süper Lig game gave Galatasaray the necessary morale boost ahead of the tough test.

Galatasaray coach Domenec Torrent was happy with his players’ performances in the club’s last two games.

“We were able to stop one of the top five teams in Europa in the first leg; they won 4-0 over Osasuna in their next game,” Torrent said after the Beşiktaş match.

“I told my players before tonight’s game: ‘The best way to prepare for the second leg [against Barcelona] was to win the Beşiktaş game. You cannot beat Beşiktaş if you have the Barcelona game in mind.’ And they did their part.”

Torrent said his men put a lot of effort on the pitch, both against Barcelona and Beşiktaş.

“Now we must pick up where we left off and once again put all we’ve got if we will have a chance of knocking out Barcelona.”

A rejuvenated Barça heads to Istanbul for the second leg on a 10-game unbeaten run that has propelled the club back up to third in La Liga and seen it emerge as one of the favorites to win the Europa League.

“The fans enjoy themselves when they come to the stadium, and so are we out on the pitch,” said Gerard Pique, who played his 600th game for Barcelona in March 13’s win over Osasuna.

“The results are coming back and we hope to keep this going through to the end of the season,” the veteran center-back told the club’s website.

With the away goal rule removed at the beginning of this season, ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals over the two legs are no longer decided on the number of goals scored away but by two 15-minute periods of extra time and, if necessary, a penalty shootout.

“We got the result we wanted,” Galatasaray midfielder Kerem Aktürkoğlu said after last week’s goalless draw. “It will be a very different match in the second leg with our fans behind us.”

The game at the Nef Stadium will kick off at 8:45 p.m.

Also, in the Europa League on March 17, tournament specialist Sevilla will be in London to play West Ham United with a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

Six draws in its last eight league games have effectively ended Sevilla’s domestic title hopes, leaving Julen Lopetegui’s charges 10 points adrift of leader Real Madrid.

But the team remains on course for more success in the Europa League as it looks to win a trophy it has already lifted a record six times, all since 2006.

Sevilla also has the incentive of trying to reach a final that will be played in its own stadium, the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, on May 18.

West Ham is the sole English representative still in the Europa League, while Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis is the third Spanish side as it heads to Germany to play Eintracht Frankfurt bidding to overturn a 2-1 deficit.

Turkey, football,