Galatasaray suffers pitch woes ahead of Real game

Galatasaray suffers pitch woes ahead of Real game

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Galatasaray suffers pitch woes ahead of Real game Galatasaray aims high in the Champions League but the Turkish titleholder faces a pitch dilemma ahead of the crucial Real Madrid tie.

The Istanbul club faces a UEFA inspection this weekend as European football’s governing body will check whether or not the controversial Türk Telekom Arena will be fit to host Los Blancos on April 9.

Galatasaray, who made headlines in January with its signing of Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder, will play the Champions League quarterfinal first leg game at Santiago Bernabeu on April 3. However, the Arena turf, which created problems in earlier games against CFR Cluj and Schalke 04 this season, is being questioned for the decisive returning game.

“We should talk about our scandalous pitch,” coach Fatih Terim said after his team’s 1-1 draw against Schalke on Feb. 20.

According to a report by daily Hürriyet, a UEFA delegation will inspect the turf this weekend, and if it does not rule that the pitch condition is adequate, Galatasaray may consider not playing its Spor Toto Super League game against Mersin İdman Yurdu on April 6.

In order to give the pitch resting time, Galatasaray will have to play the game in a different stadium, but the Istanbul club board does not favor the idea of playing a home game in a stadium other than Türk Telekom Arena. The club will request the Turkish Football Federation reschedule the Mersin İdman Yurdu game.

The Türk Telekom Arena pitch has been a headache for Galatasaray this season, with some parts of the turf becoming unplayable. The Champions League game against Cluj was the most memorable incident, as the pitch had large puddles of water after strong rain on Oct. 23, 2012.

The club said it was caused by a drainage problem, and the turf underwent serious maintenance over the winter break. However, in the round of 16 game against Schalke last month, there were visible holes in some parts of the turf, affecting both teams’ performance.

Similar problems were seen in the March 8 league game against Gençlerbirliği. Coach Terim said the club should find a solution to the issue, while media reports claimed players were unhappy about the turf condition.

Türk Telekom Arena is Turkey’s most expensive football stadium and was the country’s choice for the final venue for its 2020 European Football Championship bid. It will also host several FIFA Under-20 World Cup games, including the final, this summer.

One of the main problems with the turf is that it is not receiving direct sunlight due to its location. Club officials are trying to shine artificial light on the grass, thus far to no avail. The stadium’s architect, Mete Arat, had reported that parts of the stadium’s roof should be made with material permeable to light, but the plans were later changed due to budget problems, daily Milliyet reported last month.