Chelsea v Galatasaray – Match Preview

There could hardly be a better way to bounce back from a damaging league defeat than to secure progression into the quarter-finals of the Champions League. As Galatasaray, along with Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, visit Stamford Bridge, we are presented with that exact opportunity.

While I’ve decided to take a positive approach to the fact that we could book our place in the next round of Europe’s elite cup competition two days after suffering misery at Villa Park, it could prove to have a detrimental effect if, for example, confidence has ebbed, such an outcome is a rarity for a side under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship. But Galatasaray must not be underestimated.

The Turks, managed by former Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini, demonstrated their flaws and attributes in Istanbul three weeks ago. Their defence was porous that evening as their suicidal defending almost came close to costing them dearly, with Fernando Torres’s vital away goal our only significant exploitation of their defects.

However, credit must be given to Mancini who withdrew Izet Hajrovic as defensive midfielder Yekta Kurtulus took his place after only 30 minutes. The Italian coach had sensed his side’s defensive woes and Kurtulus provided stability to the Galatasaray back-line.

Our failure to seal more than the one away goal during Galatasaray’s half-an-hour of uncertainty served as evidence of Mourinho’s claims that we are a work in progress, a developing, youthful team. A complete team, as Jose put it, would have put the tie beyond their woeful opponents in those thirty or so minutes. Fortunately, as Galatasaray dominated the second-half, Aurelien Chedjou’s feebly-conceded goal was our only punishment for our profligacy earlier in the first-half.

As Gianni Infantino conducted the draw for the knockout phase, and paired us with Galatasaray, I immediately made my predictions. Tight in Istanbul and comfortable at the Bridge was my verdict, its veracity proven three weeks ago as I now await the second-leg, in which Didier Drogba makes his much-anticipated return to Stamford Bridge.

Scoring 157 goals in 341 games, coupled with his work rate and overall contribution, the Ivorian has established himself as a true Chelsea legend. In his last game, his 341st, for the Blues, Drogba fired us to our first Champions League triumph in our history, scoring the equalising header and keeping his composure to win us the European Cup from the penalty spot.

Now, he threatens to dump us out of the competition.

Predicted Starting XIs:

Chelsea – Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Lampard, Ramires, Willian, Schurrle, Hazard, Eto’o.

Galatasaray – Muslera, Eboue, Chedjou, Hakan Balta, Alex, Sneijder, Inan Selcuk, Melo, Yekta Kurtulus, Drogba, Yilmaz Burak.

There are 4 comments

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  1. Der_Kaiser

    A good, professional performance and into the last 8 – great atmosphere at the Bridge too.

    Hazard was a joy to watch, Oscar much improved and I’m increasingly impressed with our back 4 – looking very solid overall. Just a shame Matic can’t play as I think his presence would enhance our chances further still.

    Let’s see what the draw brings on Friday – don’t fancy either Madrid side at this stage, but I think we’re quietly gaining momentum in the competition and have a good outside chance at taking a trip to Lisbon in May. Fingers crossed.

    • Ahmed Osoble

      Agree with you Johnny. I’m just preparing a “5 things we learnt” article and the fact that Oscar seems to have emerged from his winter slump will be included.

  2. GrocerJack

    Calm and professional, something City and Arsenal would have died for at home in the CL. Very controlled and something I’d like to see on Saturday vs a weakened Arsenal side with no Ozul, Wilshere, Ramsey on board.

    • Ramone

      I’m sure we’ll see Matic back at the weekend. The only times I was worried in this game was when both Frank and Ramires got caught ahead of the ball and exposed the back four – a couple of times early on, and once alarmingly at about the hour mark. Better teams might have punished us.
      I feel for Frank in the holding role. He obviously tries very hard to be disciplined and responsible, but he just can’t do it. You can see him trying to restrain himself, checking his position, watching out for gaps, covering other players, holding back, being responsible, holding back some more, look at me boss I’m doing the job but, just as the most well trained dog will eat your chocolate cake if you leave it around long enough, Frank’s nature will get the better of him and he will eventually bomb forward and leave us short.
      Having said that, with Rami out against the Arse, Frank may still get the nod. The difference being that with Matic (not Rami) also holding we’ll be more solid.

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