Galatasaray in Glasgow with eyes on group stage
With the playoffs being played as one-leg ties behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, one side will emerge victorious at the Ibrox.
What is at stake for Galatasaray is not only advancing but also giving Turkey an advantage in its struggle for the national coefficient.
Scotland, just one place behind Turkey, is in the 12th place in the UEFA European coefficients. The top 11 nations in the rankings are guaranteed direct entry into the Champions League, with a second team getting access to the second round of the qualifying competition.
With last season’s champion, Başakşehir, which will start its campaign in the Champions League group stage, being the only other Turkish team on the European stage, has vowed to keep Turkey ahead of Scotland in the rankings.
“I take the Europa League very seriously,” Terim said after a goalless draw against Fenerbahçe in an Istanbul derby on Sept. 27.
“We will meet tough opponents when we go to Glasgow to face Rangers. In this game, we are not just playing for Galatasaray, we are playing for Turkey,” he added.
“I am well aware it’s on a knife-edge between Turkey and Scotland, and if we fail, the country fails. Galatasaray will go out and play with no fear, and we know what the financial rewards are for qualifying for the group stages, too.”
Bad news for the Istanbul club came from midfielder Arda Turan, who will miss the game due to the flu.
“Arda Turan, whose COVID-19 PCR test result is negative and his lung tomography is clean, will not be included in our delegation that will go to Glasgow for the Rangers match in the UEFA Europa League due to complaints of flu infection and high fever,” Galatasaray said in a statement late on Sept. 29.
The game will also be a tough test for Glasgow Rangers coach Steven Gerrard, who expects a “Champions League level” game.
“Galatasaray are a big club, a massive team, and they are certainly coming to Ibrox as favorites for sure,” the former Liverpool great said after last week’s 4-0 Europa League win over Willem II.
“I think it is going to be a really tough game without that there. We are going into a Champions League level of the game. We are going to have to find a special level of performance.”
The game will be extra special for Romanian player Ianis Hagi, whose father Gheorghe Hagi is a legend for Galatasaray and Turkish football after leading the club to the EUFA Cup title in 2000, along with four Turkish league titles.
Gerrard believes that his playmaker will not get caught up in the occasion at Ibrox.
“This is about Rangers v Galatasaray,” he said.
“Ianis is in a good place at the moment and is going from strength to strength from pre-season. We don’t want him to go to this game with any baggage or thinking about anything that is not necessary. He just needs to focus on the 90 minutes and try to find his best performance for us. Anything else that comes around the fixture and sentiment, we respect it, but it’s not really important.”