What: Champions League Quarter-final (First leg)
Who: Real Madrid vs Galatasaray
When: Wednesday 3rd April, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

More Than Luck

Having seen off Manchester United in the last round, Real Madrid’s quest for La Decima – a tenth European Cup accolade – continues, with Los Blancos having to meet Galatasaray in the quarter-final. Many branded Jose Mourinho’s team as lucky when they managed to beat Manchester United and the Spanish side certainly did not display the best aspect of their game against the Premier League leaders. That will need to be changed when they welcome their Turkish guests, knowing that they have lost just two of their last eighteen European fixtures on the road.

The draw could have been much worse for the home side, but luck did not smile upon Los Blancos, according to Sergio Ramos, who highlighted the opposition’s toughness: “That we have drawn Galatasaray is not a stroke of luck by any means; on the contrary, they are a pretty strong team and the fact is that they are stronger now with the signings of [Didier] Drogba and [Wesley] Sneijder”, declared the vice-captain.

However, Real Madrid boast a good Champions League record, especially at home. Los Merengues are undefeated in 30 of their last 33 matches in Europe’s blue ribbon competition, and have scored at least twice in their last three games against Galatasaray. With the first game taking place at the Santiago Bernabeu, Mourinho will want to record a comfortable result ahead of the second leg at the Turk Telekom Arena.

High Hopes

Real Madrid might be slight favourites, but there is no reason to count Galatasaray out of the tie just yet. The Turks are by no means whipping boys and will put up a great fight against their opponents, even at the Santiago Bernabeu. At such a stage, it is the little details that count, such as the odd away goal, and Galatasaray will need to get a few of those ahead of the return leg on their own turf.

Galatasaray are leading the Turkish Super Lig with a four-point margin over fierce rivals Fenerbahce and will want to translate their domestic success into a European triumphs. As such, team striker Burak Yilmaz believes that his side can overcome Los Blancos, and go on to win their first ever Champions League trophy. “We can beat Real Madrid. It will be a very difficult task, for sure, but I know that we have what it takes and when we beat Real Madrid, we can win the Champions League”, said the Turkey international.

Galatasaray will need to forget the fact that they are competing in this round for the first time since 2001; having exited at the hands of Real Madrid themselves. Furthermore, their Spanish record is a poor one with a single win in 12 games.

Recent form

Real Madrid:
Celta Vigo 1-2 Real Madrid (10/03; La Liga)
Real Madrid 5-2 Mallorca (16/03; La Liga)
Real Zaragoza 1-1 Real Madrid (30/03; La Liga)

Schalke 2-3 Galatasaray (12/03; Champions League)
Kayserispor 1-3 Galatasaray (17/03; Super Lig)
Galatasaray 2-0 Istanbul Buyuksehir (30/03; Super Lig)

Key absences

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Raphael Varane (doubt)

Galatasaray: Tomas Ujfalusi

Players to watch

Real Madrid – Diego Lopez: The match is taking place at the Santiago Bernabeu, but it is almost a certainty that Lopez will be tested on the night. The towering keeper has made a good impact ever since his move from Sevilla and will need to keep it up as Iker Casillas returns from injury.

Galatasaray – Burak Yilmaz: The striker has now 26 strikes in 31 appearances so far this term, but meeting Real Madrid at the Bernabeu will be his hardest task so far. Having scored the two goals in Galatasaray’s last match, he will be hoping to increase his tally.

Match Prediction

Real Madrid’s last game against Real Zaragoza at La Romareda showed that Los Blancos are still struggling on the road so far this term. At the Santiago Bernabeu however, they display the better aspect of their game and should dictate play. However, the opposition might just sneak in that valuable away goal. 2-1 in favour of Real Madrid.

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