Stamford Bridge, London
March 18, 2014; 19:45 BST
Chelsea FC host Galatasaray in the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie at Stamford Bridge tonight. The Blues scored a vital away goal at Istanbul, but were pegged back in the second half by Chedjou’s equalizer. With both Arsenal and Manchester City crashing out from this round, Chelsea represents England’s best hope of a representative in the Quarter Finals of this tournament.
The last time Galatasaray visited Stamford Bridge, the match ended 1-0 for the home side, who were already carrying a massive five goals advantage from the first leg. This match of course will also see the return of Didier Drogba to London, who is a cult hero among the Chelsea fans – so there will certainly be mixed emptions if the former Chelsea player scores tonight.
Chelsea are coming into this game on the back of a disappointing loss against Aston Villa in the league which has thrown the title race wide open once again. They will look to make amends in Europe with a good performance against the Turkish side, whose last defeat came in November at the hands of Real Madrid. But despite their unbeaten run since December, they have struggled to win matches recently and have drawn four of their last six matches in all competitions. All this makes for an exciting build-up to this game, one which is sure to leave up to the expectations.
Team news and tactics
Jose Mourinho doesn’t have too many injury concerns at the moment to contain with ahead of this fixture. Ashley Cole, who picked up an injury in training after featuring for England in a friendly against Denmark, is still out of action and is expected to return next week. Brazilian center back David Luiz is also a doubt for this fixture and will undergo a late fitness test ahead of this game to confirm is availability. Luiz did train with the first team on Friday, although it looks unlikely that Mourinho will drop any of Gary Cahill or John Terry for this game.
Marko van Ginkel is the only other injury concern at the moment, and although he did return to training, it looks unlikely that Dutchman will feature in first action anytime soon. Mourinho will also miss out on Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah as both are ineligible to participate in Champions League for Chelsea this season.
Mourinho is expected to make two changes to the side which suffered a disappointing loss against Aston Villa at the weekend. Frank Lampard, who feature on the bench in that match, will return to the midfield alongside Ramires – replacing new signing Matic. Samuel Eto’o, who surprisingly didn’t even feature on the bench against Aston Villa, is expected to start in this game as Fernando Torres drops to the bench.
It will be interesting to see whether Mourinho decides to sit back a bit in this game as they already have that crucial away goal in the bag. He is likely to set –up his side to play on the counter-attack as he knows that Galatasaray will have to push for goals in this game.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech (GK); Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Lampard, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto’o
Unlike Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini does face a relatively long injury list ahead of this crucial game. He is still without Aydin Yilmaz and Eray Iscan, both whom are yet to feature for Galatasaray in this year. Emre Colak, who picked up an injury in the match against Rizespor, remains on the sidelines as well for this game.
Worryingly for Mancini, there are some concerns about the fitness of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera ahead of this game. But he is expected to recover in time and feature in this match. 23-year-old Turkish footballer Simih Kaya also picked up an injury in the last game against Karabukspor and was replaced in the second half by Aurelien Chedjou, is also a doubt for this game.
Mancini is expected to make to two changes to the starting line-up he fielded against Karabukspor at the weekend. The former Manchester City manager rested Emmanuel Eboue in the last match and is expected to return to the line-up in place of Sabri Sarioglu. Aurelian Chedjou, who came on in the second half of that game, will also return to the center of the defence alongside Hakan Balta.
In the first leg Mancini’s side held an almost disastrous high line in defence, which was time again exposed by Chelsea’s pace, especially in the first half. Galatasaray are unlikely to use similar tactics at Stamford Bridge tonight. He will look to remain in the game for the first hours, before pushing for the equalizer in the last 30 minutes of the match.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Muslera (GK); Eboue, Balta, Chedjou, Telles; Kurtulus, Inan, Melo; Sneijder; Drogba, Yilmaz
Players to watch-out for: Oscar (Chelsea); Didier Drogba (Galatasaray)
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Galatasaray