[UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Preview] Galatasaray has been given little chance against Real Madrid, but before dismissing its chances in their quarterfinal pairing
at the Bernabeu on Wednesday, you should meet Gala’s legendary coach, accomplished players and fervent fans.
TV: Real Madrid-Galatasaray (Wednesday: 2:45pm ET, Fox Soccer).
WIDE LOOK: Galatasaray finished second to Manchester United in Group H, beating United in Istanbul, Real Madrid finished second in the group of death. Madrid beat United in the round of 16, helped by a red card in the second leg at Old Trafford. Gala tied Schalke 04 at home, 1-1, advancing with an impressive 3-2 victory in Germany.
Gala’s currently first in Turkey’s Super Lig. Madrid’s a distant second in La Liga, with Coach Jose Mourinho having conceded the title to Barcelona.
THE EMPEROR: Fatih Terim is in his third stint at Galatasaray, and he’s part of modern Turkish soccer fabric. He captained Galatasaray in over 300 games and captained Turkey in 35 of his 51 appearances. The 59-year-old Terim coached Fiorentina and AC Milan and took the Turkish national team to two Euros, including the semifinals in 2008. Several publications named the “Emperor” among the top 10 coaches in the world, and Mourinho himself is quite fond of the vibrant Turkish icon.
"I've known Jose for many years," Terim said. "He's not your typical coach, he's different. We have always enjoyed a good friendship and the game between us will not change that."
TURKISH CREDENTIALS: Burak Yilmaz is tied with Cristiano Ronaldo with a tourney-high eight goals, four on headers. UEFA.com named the 6-foot-2 Turkish international the tournament’s best overall player during group play.
Didier Drogba, 35, scored the winning penalty in last year’s final for Chelsea, where Mourinho once coached him. Wesley Sneijder won a UCL trophy under Mourinho at Inter Milan and played at Madrid. Hamit Altintop played for Madrid last year. Felipe Melo played for Brazil in the 2010 World Cup, and Emmanuel Eboue beat Madrid en route to making the 2006 UCL final with Arsenal.
RABID FANS: Galatasaray’s fans were found digging a tunnel with their bare hands to watch their team play in Germany. Think Istanbul isn’t going to be an absolute madhouse with Real Madrid in town next Tuesday?
THE SKINNY: Raphael Varane is back healthy. Just 19, the defender is already pivotal for Madrid, and has the size to match Yilmaz. Strikers Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema are in poor form, but Angel di Maria is back, and Los Merengues also have some winger named Ronaldo.
Galatasaray has three wins and one loss on the road in this year’s UCL, and will not be intimidated on Wednesday. It wants just one thing to take back to Turkey, a scoreline that makes the second leg relevant.
If Mourinho wants control of Madrid’s destiny, it will only come by dominating on Wednesday, and he’ll be anxious to avoid a crapshoot in Istanbul.