Turkey's Galatasaray hopes for more Copenhagen heroics
Felipe Melo of Galatasaray celebrates his goal against FC Copenhagen during their Champions League soccer match in Istanbul October 23, 2013. REUTERSGalatasaray revisits Parken Stadium, home to its greatest achievement, in search of another big win when it takes on FC Copenhagen in the Champions League on Nov. 5.
The Lions will take a huge step toward qualification for the round-of-16 if they can beat the Danes for the second time in two weeks.
Galatasaray had a commanding 3-1 win over FC Copenhagen in the two teams’ earlier meeting, jumping to the second spot in Group B.
Runaway leader Real Madrid is on the verge of winning the group with nine points, Galatasaray follows with four points. Italian giant Juventus is third with two points while FC Copenhagen, desperately needing a win to survive, has one.
A victory for Galatasaray on a night when Juventus hosts Real Madrid will put the Turkish champion in the drivers’ seat.
The game will be a first revisit to Parken Stadium for Galatasaray, who won the 2000 UEFA Cup at that venue. The meeting could have been all the more emotional for the Lions if Fatih Terim, who was in the dugout 13 years ago, had retained his job. However, Terim’s third spell as the Galatasaray coach came to an abrupt end in September, meaning he would be deprived of a comeback to the Danish capital for another crucial match. Terim’s assistants Ümit Davala and Hasan Şaş, who were also players at the 2000 final match against Arsenal, also parted ways with Galatasaray after the veteran coach was sacked. However, coach Claudio Taffarel, a former goalkeeper, whose heroics against Arsenal became part of the Galatasaray folklore, is still a part of the club.
With Roberto Mancini at the helm, Galatasaray is not looking back, however, the Italian coach has serious injury concerns within his squad. Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and attacker Wesley Sneijder will miss the trip to Copenhagen with a broken toe and a muscular injury respectively. The duo will also miss the weekend’s crucial derby clash against Fenerbahçe in the Spor Toto Super League.
Galatasaray will need a victory to make sure it is ahead of Juventus before the two teams meet in Istanbul later this month, but the Italian heavyweight is coming to the Real Madrid fixture with extra confidence off the back of three consecutive wins and as many clean sheets in Serie A.
However, Juve coach Antonio Conte has called on fans to give the Serie A champions an extra boost by offering Carlo Ancelotti’s Spanish giants a red-hot welcome to Turin.
“I hope the stadium will be a fiery cauldron on Tuesday night. The fans can help push us to victory,” Conte told JTV.
Given their lack of wins so far, Juve could certainly do with a boost.
Ousted from last year’s quarter-finals by eventual winners Bayern Munich, the Italians appeared down and out of this season’s competition following a 2-1 defeat to nine-time European champions Real three weeks ago.
That defeat, courtesy of a double from Portuguese striker Ronaldo, came in the wake of a confidence-sapping league reverse away to Fiorentina, who scored four second-half goals to stun the champions 4-2.
Undoubtedly helped by the fact that defender Giorgio Chiellini was sent off in somewhat harsh fashion shortly after the restart, the fact remains Juventus is in dire need of a win.
But three consecutive Serie A wins against Genoa, Catania and Parma – during which goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon kept a clean sheet – have boosted Juve’s resolve.
Midfielder Claudio Marchisio believes Juve, taking into account Chiellini’s sending-off, gave a good account of themselves at the Santiago Bernabeu.
And while he underlined the threat of Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, he believes improvements to Juve’s defensive play could be decisive.
“Chiellini’s sending-off changed the game, but even when down to ten [men] we played an excellent game in terms of our attention and chances created,” said Marchisio.
“We have to do the same again on Tuesday but also look out for their threat on the counter-attack through the likes of Di Maria, Ronaldo and [Gareth] Bale, who all break with extreme pace.
“Real have plenty of strong players up front who sometimes help out less in defensive areas, so that puts their backline under pressure.
“We defended well in Spain, enjoyed possession and caused them problems.
“Plus, in Turin, we’ll be able to count on the support of our fans, who will create a red-hot atmosphere,” added Marchisio.
An additional report from AFP was used in this story.