Galatasaray looks to beat under-strength united
ISTANBULGalatasaray hopes to benefit from an under-strength Manchester United side when the two teams clash in the Champions League tonight.
The Turkish champion needs nothing less than a win to keep its qualification dreams alive, while the English giants are coming to Istanbul with a squad formed mostly of reserved players, as it has already won Group H. Galatasaray has four points in the group and is above Romanian Cluj only because of its better head-to-head record. Braga of Portugal is sitting in fourth with three points.
Cluj hosts Braga in the group’s other match.
With just two match days left in the group stage, the game is crucial for Galatasaray to continue its European aspirations.
Galatasaray gained some hope with yesterday’s announcement that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had decided to rest many of his key players.
Key attackers Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Nani, Shinji Kagawa, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, along with goalkeeper David de Gea and defender Rio Ferdinand, will be left out of the squad to face Galatasaray.
It was assumed that Ferguson would rest some of his key players against Galatasaray after his team beat Braga to win the group, but Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim brushed off assumptions that the Turkish team would be the favorites of the game.
“I ask you, don’t say ‘Manchester is coming to Istanbul without a target,’” Terim said after his team’s 3-1 win over Cluj two weeks ago. “You can never write off Manchester United.”
However, it was clear that hope prevails in the Galatasaray camp, although the team suffered a heavy 3-1 defeat at the hands of Kardemir Karabükspor in the Turkish league over the weekend.
Similarly, Manchester United lost 1-0 to Norwich, with Galatasaray’s Moroccan attacker Nordin Amrabat quick to draw similarities.
“We need to beat them if we want to go further in the competition,” he said. “Of course it will be tough, but if Norwich can beat them, why can’t we?”
It is clear that Manchester United is far more relaxed than it was this time last year, when the three-time competition winner surprisingly failed to reach the knockout stage.
“It is a happier place because of what we are doing in the Champions League,” United midfielder Michael Carrick, who scored the winning goal in the two teams’ first meeting earlier this year, said. “Last year we were chasing our tails a bit and came up short. This year we have been ahead of the game. Getting those wins and points on the board makes it an awful lot easier.”
Looking for a first European home win since 2009, Galatasaray faces the match on the heels of a disappointing loss, yet Terim sounds optimistic.
“Galatasaray has a European reflex - we show this reflex even in our worst moments,” Terim said. “From minute one, the crowd will be gushing support for [Galatasaray]. If we beat Manchester United, this confidence will carry us further.”
Fans would like to believe that Galatasaray will show that “reflex” again when the two teams kick off at Türk Telekom Arena.