Galatasaray given tough task, Fenerbahçe happy after draw

Galatasaray given tough task, Fenerbahçe happy after draw

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray given tough task, Fenerbahçe happy after draw

A Champions League ball is drawn by tournament ambassador Steve McManama during the Champions League quarterfinals draw on March 15 at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIEN FEVAL

Turkish titleholder Galatasaray will face Spanish giant Real Madrid in the Champions League, while Fenerbahçe is pitted against Italy’s Lazio in the Europa League as the quarterfinal draws were made in Nyon, Switzerland on March 15.

Two Turkish teams are in the quarterfinals of European competitions for the first time in four decades, but while Galatasaray has been given a tough path to the semifinal, Fenerbahçe looks happy with its draw.

Galatasaray has the particularly daunting task of all four ties in the Champions League, as it will meet nine-time champion Real Madrid.

Title favorite Barcelona will meet wealthy Paris Saint-Germain. Last year’s losing finalist Bayern Munich will play the first leg at home against Italian giants Juventus and Malaga will meet Dortmund in the last eight.

Galatasaray chairman Ünal Aysal admitted it will be a tough opponent, but has confidence in his team.

“Real Madrid is a tough opponent,” Aysal told GS TV. “But there is no such thing as ‘difficult’ for Galatasaray. For this I am happy: Turkish football fans will watch a great team like Real Madrid thanks to Galatasaray. I am not worried.”

Past meetings

Galatasaray has been absent from the Champions League knockout rounds since 2001, when the Lions met Real Madrid on that last occasion.

Galatasaray staged a famous comeback from two goals down to win the first leg 3-2, but lost 3-0 in Madrid to be knocked out.

The two teams have also met in the 2000 UEFA Super Cup final, where Galatasaray beat Real Madrid 2-1 with a golden goal by Mario Jardel to win the trophy.

Former Real Madrid great Emilio Butragueno said, “Galatasaray is a great team and have fantastic fans so we are expecting two tough matches.”

“They have some great players like [Wesley] Sneijder and [Didier] Drogba but our objective is to win that 10th European Cup. That is our goal,” he added.

The quarterfinal games will be played on April 2, 3, 9 and 10.

The final is set for Wembley on May 25, although there are no English clubs remaining in the last eight for the first time since 1996, as defending champions Chelsea failed to make it out of the group stages.
Chelsea was one of the teams to avoid in the second-tier Europa League, while Fenerbahçe received a draw it should be satisfied with.

Fenerbahçe will meet Lazio in the quarterfinals, while English trio Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle will face Rubin Kazan, Basel and Benfica, respectively.

Fenerbahçe board member Abdullah Kiğılı was happy with the draws.

“We had one of the best draws possible,” Kiğılı said. “Lazio is not superior to Fenerbahçe. We are the better side and are in better form.”

Fenerbahçe’s Dutch star Dirk Kuyt said the club is looking forward to the tie.

“They are a very good team and we are looking forward to playing them,” Kuyt told NTV Spor. “I think we have a good chance.”

Kuyt added that the Lazio meeting at home on April 4 would be a special night for the players, since the club was forced to play its last two home games without supporters due to a UEFA ban. In the return game on April 11, Lazio will have to cope with the absence of its fans as it will be serving the second of its two-game ban.

Fenerbahçe assistant coach İsmail Kartal said the team is confident.

“We have played well in the European competition this season,” Kartal said. “We made it to the quarterfinal with good performances. And I believe we will advance if we manage to finish the first leg without conceding a goal.”