Turk Telecom Arena, Istanbul
December 10, 2013; 19:45 BST
Galatasaray host Juventus at Turk Telecom Arena in the crucial Champions League group stage fixture, which will decide the fate of both these teams in this tournament. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-2 draw as Didier Drogba, Arturo Vidal, Fabio Quagliarella and Umut Bulut got on the score-sheet.
Real Madrid have already qualified from this group and have confirmed their place at the top of the table, leaving Juventus and Galatasaray fight for the final spot. The duo are separated by only two points and Juventus are in the most favourable position. The Italian side will require only a draw in Turkey to qualify for the knock-out stages, although they did suffer a 2-0 defeat the last time they visited this stadium back in 2003 as Hakan Sukur scored a memorable brace.
Team news and tactics
Galatasaray made a slow start to their domestic league and won only two of their first seven matches this season. They are currently third in the league table – nine points behind league leaders Fenerbahce. The Cimborn are coming into this fixture on the back of 2-0 win over bottom of the league side Elazigspor as Selcuk Inan and Burak Yilmaz scored two early goals for the home side. Roberto Mancini’s men have been on good form at home and are on a five match winning streak at the Turk Telecom Arena in all competitions. This might hold them in good stead in this crucial encounter against Juventus.
The Turkish side are currently third in the Group B points table in the Champions League and are in desperate need of a win in this game. They have been disappointing in Europe this season and have managed to win only one of their five matches so far. Moreover, Galatasaray have conceded 14 goals in five matches, which includes a 1-6 thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid in the opening game of this group. They lost their last match in the Champions League against Real Madrid as the Spanish side completed a 10-goals rout over two legs.
Roberto Mancini will be without Hamit Altintop for this game, who is out with a back injury. But the good news is that Wesley Sneijder, who has once again been linked with a move to Manchester United, has recovered from his injury and could feature after an absence of six weeks. Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera is also available once again after featuring in the win against Elazigspor.
Roberto Mancini is expected to make only one change to the side he fielded at the weekend with Yekta Kurtulus being replaced by Wesley Sneijder. The former Manchester City manager has been using a 3-4-1-2 formation recently with Riera and Eboue as wingbacks. This seems to be a tactics to accommodate the trio of Drogba, Yilmaz and Sneijder in the side without having to reduce numbers at the center of the park. It will be interesting to see how this tactics match up against a Juventus side, who also play with a three-man defence.
Expected starting line-up (3-4-1-2): Muslera (GK); Zan, Gulselam, Chedjou; Riera, Melo, Inan, Eboue; Sneijder; Yilmaz, Drogba
Juventus have started from where they left off last season and have been in flying form in Serie A. The reigning Italian champions are currently leading the points table with a three point’s advantage over AS Roma. It looks unlikely that any team would be able to stop them from the clinching the title once again this season, despite the fact that Roma made all the early season running. The Old Lady have lost just one match in the league this season and are currently on a nine match unbeaten streak in all competitions. They have also improved their away form after managing to win only three of their opening eight matches on the road in all competitions. Antonio Conte’s men have now won three match on a trot on their travels and will look to carry this form against Galatasaray tonight. Juventus are coming into this game on the back of a 0-2 win over Bologna as Vidal and Chiellini scored for the away side.
Quite contrastingly, Juventus have been disappointing in Europe this season. They have managed to win only of their five encounters so far and perhaps their best performance have come against the toughest opponents in the group – Real Madrid. Conte would have been disappointed with the fact that his side were held to a draw against both FC Copenhagen and a struggling Galatasaray side at the start of their European campaign. But luckily for them, they still have their fate in their own hands and can confirm a place in the next round with a draw in Turkey. They maintained this possibility with a crucial 3-1 win over Copenhagen in their last Champions League encounter as Vidal scored a hat-trick.
Antonio Conte is still without Simone Pepe, but the bigger concern for him is the absence of Andrea Pirlo. The Italian midfielder has suffered from a knee injury and is out of contention. There are also concerns about the fitness of Mirko Vucinic, who was replaced by Llorente in the first half of the game against Bologna.
Conte is expected to make five changes to the side which he fielded at the weekend. Both Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente started from the bench in the last game as Conte looked to rest them, the duo will start once again. Stephan Lichtsteiner will replace Mauricio Isla on the right wing, while Kwadwo Asamoah will replace Federico Peluso on the left. Angelo Ogbonna will drop back to the bench with Leonardo Bonucci returning to the center of the three-man defence.
Expected starting line-up (3-5-2): Buffon (GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Lichtsteiner, Vidal, Pogba, Marchisio, Asamoah; Tevez, Llorente
Players to watch-out for: Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray); Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Prediction: Galatasaray 1-1 Juventus