Galatasaray to discover CL opponent

Galatasaray to discover CL opponent

NYON, Switzerland
Galatasaray to discover CL opponent

Balls for the Round of 16 Champions League draw are seen at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. AFP photo

Galatasaray goes into today’s Champions League quarterfinal draw with its fingers crossed, with La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid looking like the teams to avoid.

The Turkish champion returned to the European elite with a 4-3 aggregate victory over Schalke in the round of 16, meaning that the Istanbul club has advanced to the last eight for the first time in over a decade.

Three Spanish clubs are in the pack, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Malaga, in addition to two German clubs, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, as well as Italy’s Juventus and France’s Paris Saint-Germain.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and last season’s runner-up Bayern Munich look to be the strongest three remaining in the competition.

Galatasaray is likely to be happy to be drawn against Malaga, a debutant in the competition this year. Galatasaray Chairman Ünal Aysal has said he would like his team to be drawn against Mediterranean opposition.

“I like the competitiveness of the Mediterranean teams, so I would be happy with Paris Saint-Germain, Malaga or Porto,” Aysal said, hours before Malaga knocked Porto out of the competition.

No fear

However, the president said Galatasaray would not be intimidated by a draw against the best. “Teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona are strong and look tough to overcome, but there is no obstacle too tough for Galatasaray … We will do whatever we can,” he said.

Galatasaray has become one of the most talked-about teams in the continent this season, thanks to its superstar transfers in January, when the Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder and Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba signed deals with the Turkish club, leaving Inter Milan and Shanghai Shenhua respectively.

Drogba’s deal included transfer fees totaling 6 million euros and payments of 15,000 euros per match, plus signing on fees of 4 million euros.

Sneijder signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Galatasaray and will cost the club around 4 million euros a year.

The multi-million transfers paid off when the team won the tie, thus becoming one of the top eight teams in the continent.

“We are together with seven really important teams,” Aysal said. “We are among the biggest top 10 clubs in Europe and have now registered our place. What we should do now is keep this going.”