Galatasaray in tough mission at Dortmund

Galatasaray in tough mission at Dortmund

Galatasaray in tough mission at Dortmund

Galatasaray players celebrate after scoring against Kasımpaşa in a Spor Toto Super League match on Oct 31. Galatasaray won 2-1 to climb into second spot in the league standings. AA Photo

Galatasaray travels to Germany tonight to take on Borussia Dortmund in Champions Lague in a game that will shape the Istanbul club’s future on the European stage.

Group D bottom side Galatasaray warmed up for its trip by coming from behind to seal a 2-1 win at home to Kasımpaşaspor on Oct. 31, less than a week after the Istanbul club conceded four goals in a game for the third time this season when it lost 4-0 at Istanbul Başakşehir.

Cesare Prandelli-coached Galatasaray has an impressive record in Germany, winning as many games (five) as it has lost, with the other three fixtures ending in draws. But the Turkish giant has just a point from the first three games and must win in Dortmund to keep alive its slim chances of repeating last year’s feat of reaching the knock-out stage having also made the quarterfinals in 2012-2013 season.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, is chasing both a place in the Champions League’s knock-out phase and a confidence-boosting victory to remedy its dire domestic form.

Dortmund has dazzled in Europe this season with an average of three goals per game to top Group D ahead of Arsenal with three straight wins and a perfect nine points. Borussia has beaten Arsenal 2-0 at home, defeated Anderlecht 3-0 in Belgium, then downed Galatasaray 4-0 in Istanbul a fortnight ago.

A fourth consecutive win tonight will confirm its place in the last 16. The 2013 Champions League finalist’s European form contrasts sharply to its nightmare Bundesliga run where the club has dropped into the relegation zone, struggling in 17th place after the worst start to a league season in the club’s history. Dortmund has lost its last five domestic games after being beaten 2-1 by league leader Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Nov. 1. With nearly a third of the season gone, Dortmund is already 10 points from qualifying for a Champions League place next season, which demands a top-three finish. To exacerbate matters, Dortmund hosts Galatasaray without captain Mats Hummels after the Germany center-back suffered a sprained ankle in Munich.

His place in the back-four is likely to go to Neven Subotic, his replacement at Bayern. Also tonight, Cristiano Ronaldo will be aiming for another record as the Champions League’s all-time leading scorer when Real Madrid hosts a Liverpool side short on confidence at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Seeking 12th victory

Ronaldo’s opener in the European champions’ 3-0 win at Anfield two weeks ago took him to within one goal of Madrid legend Raul’s 71 Champions League goals.

A 12th consecutive victory in all competitions would allow Real to seal its place in the last 16 with two games to spare in Group B. Liverpool is tied with Swiss champion Basel and Champions League debutants Ludogorets Razgrad in a battle for second place on three points.

However, despite suffering a sixth defeat of the season at Newcastle United on Nov. 1, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers insisted his side won’t be overawed by the task in front of them. “We’ve worked very hard over a couple of years to get to this level,” he said. “To play Real Madrid at the Bernabeu tells us that we’ve been doing okay. But, of course, we’re in a transition phase. We want to be better and we need to be better. So the game Tuesday night is a wonderful game for us.

“We’re still very much in the group to qualify, which is the objective. It’s a big ask playing against arguably the best team in the world at the moment. “But we’ll go into it with confidence.  The players will be back up again after Saturday’s result and we’ll go into that game looking to get something from it.”