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Schalke's Special Prep Pays Off in Istanbul
ESPN Soccernet, February 21st, 2013 11:53AM

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TAGS:  germany, men's national team, turkey, uefa champions league

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Apparently, Schalke had special preparation for the notoriously hostile atmosphere of Galatasaray’s Turk Telecom Arena in Istanbul ahead of the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 series on Wednesday. "We simulated the atmosphere of this stadium with a laptop, which prepared us very well," midfielder Julian Draxler told ZDF. “Matches aren't a lot of fun if 60,000 fans hiss against you, but I think we focused on the important part, delivered a good performance and built ourselves a solid foundation for the second leg."

Indeed, the 1-1 draw gives the Bundesliga side a slight edge going into the return leg in Gelsenkirchen on March 12. An open first-half saw Schalke go behind to a 12th-minute Burak Yilmaz goal, although both teams had several chances to score. Then, just before halftime, U.S. international Jermaine Jones started and then rounded off a brilliant counterattack, which Gala coach Fatih Terim admitted was the turning point: "We created two great opportunities to make it 2-0, then the equalizer damaged our morale just before halftime," he said. "We went in front with a great goal, but after that made too many sloppy mistakes.”

Meanwhile, Schalke is looking into the possibility of an appeal to UEFA over Gala striker Didier Drogba’s participation in the game. Last week, FIFA granted the Ivorian a temporary license to play for the Turkish giant while it investigates the validity of his contract dispute with Shanghai Shenhua.

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