Galatasaray eyes victory in journey to Lisbon’s Benfica

Galatasaray eyes victory in journey to Lisbon’s Benfica

Galatasaray eyes victory in journey to Lisbon’s Benfica

Galatasaray players are seen jogging during a training session in Istanbul ahead of a Champions League Group C match against Portuguese club Benfica. The game tonight will kick off at 9:45 p.m.

A first European win in nearly two years has revived Galatasaray’s Champions League Group C challenge and ensures Benfica will be wary of a second reverse when the sides meet again on Nov. 3.

Spor Toto Super League champion Galatasaray’s  2-1 victory at home two weeks ago boosted the club’s challenge for a top-two finish as Benfica dropped its first points in Istanbul. 

That defeat was followed by a 3-0 reverse against Sporting which snapped Benfica’s 55-match unbeaten league run at home and the club will be without suspended Greece midfielder Andreas Samaris against Galatasaray.

However, Galatasaray’s recent away form in the Champions League is particularly poor – the Istanbul club is without a win in nine attempts.

But when the teams met in the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup group stage in Lisbon, Emre Aşık and Ümit Karan struck in Galatasaray’s 2-0 away victory. 

That defeat is Benfica’s only blemish in an otherwise faultless home record against Turkish sides. The Portuguese won all four other such fixtures, scoring 16 goals and conceding only once. 

The Turkish double winner, which is in its 14th Champions League group stage campaign and its fourth in succession, started this season with a 2-0 home defeat by Atletico Madrid before drawing 2-2 at Astana.

Galatasaray has not won an away Champions League match since a 3-2 victory at Schalke 04 in the 2012-2013 round of 16 second leg  the club’s third away win in a row and one that secured a 4-3 aggregate triumph. Its away record since then is two draws and seven losses.

Also in Group C, Atletico Madrid will look to build on its 4-0 demolition of Astana last time out. 

Atletico is level with Benfica on six points and the 2014 finalist will be eager to make amends for Oct. 31’s 1-1 draw at Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga. Competition debutants Astana, who will again be without banned Ghanaian forward Patrick Twumasi, picked up their only point at home to Galatasaray on matchday two.

Also on Nov. 2, Borussia Mönchengladbach hosts Juventus bottom of its Champions League group, but buoyed by is record run of six league wins that has seen the team shoot up the Bundesliga.

Under caretaker coach Andre Schubert, Gladbach have won all of its league games to climb from bottom of the German league to fifth.

Schubert’s six wins on his first stint in the Bundesliga equals the record Willi Entenmann achieved with VfB Stuttgart in 1986.

To give that context, Bayern Munich’s coach Pep Guardiola won only his opening three games in his first Bundesliga season in 2013-2014.

But Borussia is bottom of Group D in Europe after losing its opening two games: 3-0 at Sevilla and 2-1 at home to Manchester City before drawing at  Juventus a fortnight ago.

Gladbach’s 4-1 Bundesliga win at Hertha Berlin on Oct. 31 was a timely booster after holding Juventus to a goalless draw in Turin.

Gladbach needs to beat Juventus to keep alive its faint hopes of reaching the knock-out stages.

Since Schubert took charge, after Lucien Favre’s shock resignation in September, Gladbach has only lost once - when Manchester City secured a 2-1 comeback win at Borussia Park in the Champions League.