Lions seek debut win for European survival

Lions seek debut win for European survival

CLUJ, Romania
Lions seek debut win for European survival

Galatasaray midfielder Emre Çolak vies for the ball Cluj’s Nicolas Godemeche during the two teams’ first Champions League meeting at the Türk Telekom Arena. Galatasaray barely salvaged a 1-1 draw after missing several chances against Cluj, and will seek getting all three points tonight. DHA photo

After getting its first point in the Champions League, Galatasaray now seeks its debut victory when it plays a do-or-die match at Cluj tonight.

The Turkish champion salvaged a 1-1 draw against the Romanians in a prior meeting two weeks ago, getting its first point in the top-level European club competition. A late header by Burak Yılmaz equalized for Galatasaray, who failed to convert a penalty kick early in the game.

Now, Galatasaray will try to beat a Romanian side at its own ground in a bid to continue its Champions League campaign.

English heavyweight Manchester United is comfortably leading the Group H with nine points, while Cluj is second with four points. Portuguese’s Braga has three points while Galatasaray sits on the bottom spot with just one point.

Tonight, Manchester United can secure a berth in the knockout stages with two games to spare when it takes on Braga. Galatasaray will hope that the English giant guarantee winning the group tonight and it can have a shot at the runner-up spot with a win.

Galatasaray’s poor away record

However, history is not on Galatasaray’s side, since the Lions, Turkey’s most experienced team on this stage, have not won away in the competition for 10 years.

In fact, it took four group stage campaigns for Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim to lead his team to an away victory in the competition. Nevertheless, Galatasaray will find some confidence in the fact that the team has recovered a poor form in the last month. Galatasaray failed to win five matches in a row, but the Lions then went on to score comfortable Super League wins in the following matches.

Meanwhile, a win or even a draw in northern Portugal could be enough to put the Red Devils, who were surprisingly knocked off the competition in the group stage last year, into the knockout rounds.

Braga has only one win and three points so far but will be no pushover. The Portuguese team took a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford before losing 3-2 in the last round. Braga also has a strong home record against English clubs, having in the past five years beaten Arsenal and Liverpool.

Sharp form

Recent wins over close rivals Chelsea and Arsenal have sent United to the top of the English Premier League, with summer signing Robin van Persie in sharp form in a partnership with Wayne Rooney that has brought him 10 goals in 13 games.

“He’s been doing well for us, he’s a natural-born goal-scorer and long may it continue that he keeps scoring the goals,” Rio Ferdinand said of the former Arsenal striker.

United’s defense, though, is weakened by injuries to Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, leaving Ferdinand, who turns 34 on match day, to anchor the back line.

That could be a tough task as Brazilian striker Alan, who netted both of Braga’s goals at Old Trafford, is set to lead the home team’s attack.

Leandro Salino, Ruben Micael, Eder and Ruben Amorim are also likely to return after being rested in Braga’s 3-1 Portuguese win over Gil Vicente last weekend. Amorim is expected to be deployed on the left side of midfield to stop United right back Rafael pushing forward.

United is a three-time European champion, while Braga is appearing in the competition for only the second time.