What: Champions League – Round of 16 Second leg
Who: Schalke (1) vs Galatasaray (1) (first leg score in brackets)
When: Tuesday 12th March, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
Jens Keller Masterminds Schalke Revival
Schalke were written off by many just a month or so ago as their form went from bad to worse, but they have recovered impressively since and a 1-1 draw in the first leg of this tie in Istanbul means the German outfit have a fantastic chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the third time in six years.
They come into this match having completed the domestic double over champions and fierce Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund, won three in a row in the Bundesliga and gone five unbeaten in all competitions. And prior to that, Jens Keller’s side had lost six of their previous ten. So why the turnaround? For one thing Schalke’s horrendous injury list is starting to clear up and for another Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is back in form. In the 4-1 win at Wolfsburg just over a week ago the Dutchman scored his first goal since November.
Presumably the last thing Keller needs right now is an injury to his star striker, but unfortunately that is exactly what happened as the prolific marksman limped out of the win over Dortmund after netting the second goal. Young Finnish striker Teemu Pukki may be called upon to lead the line against Galatasaray. At least the recent run of form Schalke have produced have thrust them right back into the picture for a top four finish and Champions League football again next year. That at least will take some pressure off Keller’s side as they prepare to take on the Turkish champions again.
Friday Night Blues for Gala
Galatasaray warmed up for this match in exactly the wrong way, suffering a 1-0 reverse at home to Genclerbirligi, with their lead at the top of the Turkish Super Lig reduced to four points. Didier Drogba missed a late penalty as Fatih Terim’s side failed to turn a dominant showing into end product. Terim must be planning to protest his side playing on a Friday, as all four of his team’s league defeats have come on that day of the week so far this season.
The Turkish side may also have had their minds on this big clash and they are five games unbeaten in Europe, giving them optimism ahead of the return, particularly as Wesley Sneijder has been increasingly influential since signing in January.
Galatasaray can at least welcome back Felipe Melo, who was out on Friday night through suspension, and the Brazilian will have a key role to play in dominating the central midfield battle.Terim will also be able to field Drogba after Schalke filed a complaint about his appearance in the first leg. The German side believed he should not have been able to play because of the contractual dispute between the Ivorian and his last club, Shanghai Shenhua. It would be quite some irony if he were now to net the winner against Keller’s men.
Schalke 2-1 Fortuna Dusseldorf (23/02; Bundesliga)
Wolfsburg 1-4 Schalke (02/03; Bundesliga)
Schalke 2-1 Borussia Dortmund (09/03; Bundesliga)
Galatasaray 4-2 Orduspor (25/02; Turkish Super Lig)
Eskisehirspor 0-0 Galatasaray (02/03; Turkish Super Lig)
Galatasaray 0-1 Genclerbirligi (08/03; Turkish Super Lig)
Schalke: Jermain Jones; Klaas Jan Huntelaar; Ibrahim Afellay; Kyriakos Papadopoulos; Ciprian Marica; Christoph Moritz
Galatasaray: Tomas Ujfalusi
Players to watch
Schalke – Julian Draxler: Lewis Holtby’s departure for Tottenham Hotspur has had a particular shiny silver lining with 19-year-old Draxler taking the opportunity to showcase his considerable potential. He has struck three goals in Schalke’s last two games, including the crucial opening goal against Dortmund. At the weekend he also made his 100th competitive appearance for Schalke since becoming the club’s youngest debutant as a 17-year-old, making him the youngest German player to reach such a milestone. He may not be as well known as Holtby, Mesut Ozil or Mario Gotze, but Draxler is from the same school of intelligent and composed playmakers making waves in German football in recent years.
Galatasaray – Burak Yilmaz: There is no doubting who Galatasaray’s main threat will be, even if he is the less prestigious half of a strike force which includes Drogba. Yilmaz has scored seven times in this competition this season, making him the second top goalscorer, and struck in the first leg in Istanbul. Perhaps more crucially, Galatasaray are the lowest scorers of all the teams still in the competition, with just eight goals, underlining their dependence upon Yilmaz. The forward’s anticipation of space in the box and finishing ability could be key to swinging the tie their way.
The first leg between these two sides was an entertaining and open affair for 45 minutes, both having plenty of chances before going in level at half time, 1-1. Fatih Terim then brought off Wesley Sneijder and the game closed up a bit, and it may be that the Galatasaray coach opts to leave his Dutch star on the bench for this one.
Galatasary have plenty of options going forward, in Sneijder, Yilmaz and Drogba, not to mention Albert Riera, Umut Bulut or Johan Elmander. But perhaps it is time for Hamit Altintop to shine – he struck the woodwork twice in the defeat to Genclerbirligi and having still not scored since signing for Galatasaray from Real Madrid, the former Schalke man will be hoping his ill fortune in front of goal ends against his old team.
Schalke are starting to look increasingly dangerous though and the cohesion of their play in recent weeks has seen their form improve markedly. They may be without Huntelaar for this one, but with the threat provided by Draxler, Roman Neustadter, Jefferson Farfan and Michel Bastos, Schalke can control the game and pin the Turkish side back. Football ultimately is a simple game though in which the team who take their chances best usually wins. And in this particular battle, one team is looking far more prolific than the other at present. Schalke 3-1 Galatasaray.
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