Real Madrid will be looking for their first UEFA Champions League win of the season when they face Galatasaray at the Turk Telekom Stadium on Tuesday.

The UEFA Champions League resumes this week, as the Group Stage reaches its halfway stage with Matchday 3. Record champions Real Madrid will be in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Turkish capital Istanbul to take on Galatasaray at the Turk Telekom Stadium.

Both Galatasaray and Real Madrid have made a dismal start to their respective UEFA Champions League campaigns. The two teams have a point each after the first two games, having each lost to PSG while being held to a draw by Club Brugge. Set to play each other in the next couple of matchdays, their fortunes in Europe will depend largely on the outcomes in the said fixtures.

In domestic football, both clubs have lost just one game so far. But, Real Madrid are in a much better position than their hosts, with La Liga leaders Barcelona just a point ahead of them. Galatasaray, on the other hand, are currently positioned at sixth on the Super Lig table, four points adrift of Alanyaspor.

Real Madrid romped to a 6-1 win over Galatasaray the last time these two sides faced off at the Turk Telekom Stadium, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics


Radamel Falcao is a doubt ahead of the Real Madrid fixture. (Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Radamel Falcao is a doubt ahead of the Real Madrid fixture. (Photo by Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

Fatih Terim has a few pressing injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Real Madrid. On Tuesday, the Galatasaray boss could be without as many as three first-team players, with star striker Radamel Falcao a major doubt due to his nagging Achilles complaint.

While Falcao is still hoping to play some part against Real Madrid, Mario Lemina (hamstring) and Sofiane Feghouli (thigh) are certain to miss out for the hosts. Terim, meanwhile, is expected to keep faith in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation after briefly flirting with a 3-4-3 when Galatasaray had met PSG.

Fernando Muslera picks himself in goal and the experienced custodian is likely to be kept busy by the Real Madrid attack. The defensive line should see a couple of changes, with Yuto Nagatomo and Mariano expected to don the full-back roles, flanking the central defensive partnership of Marcao and Christian Luyindama.

Steven N’Zonzi will be the key proponent in the middle of the park for the Lions, looking to stifle the visitors’ build-up play. N’Zonzi ought to have Jean Michael Seri as his partner in the midfield double pivot. Up ahead in attack, Younes Belhanda will hold the key with the creative impetus he will provide from the hole.

Ryan Babel and Emre Mor should be the two wide men for Galatasaray, with the duo providing a pacy outlet on the flanks. With Falcao unlikely to start even if available, Brighton & Hove Albion loanee Florin Andone, who has shown signs of rediscovering his best touch, will lead the line for the hosts.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Muslera; Mariano, Luyindama, Marcao, Nagatomo; N’Zonzi, Seri; Mor, Belhanda, Babel; Andone


Real Madrid

The injury woes are starting to ease up for Zinedine Zidane ahead of his side’s next Champions League fixture against Galatasaray. On Tuesday in Istanbul, the Real Madrid manager will be without four first-team players, with a couple of players making themselves fit and available.

Toni Kroos, who had struggled with a groin injury for a couple of weeks, is fit again and has traveled with the squad. Ferland Mendy is available as well, having overcome a thigh injury that had kept him sidelined for nearly a month.

The return of the duo leaves Zidane without just Nacho (knee), Luka Modric (thigh), Gareth Bale (knock) and long-term absentee Marco Asensio (knee). Kroos and Mendy, meanwhile, are expected to slot straight back into the starting lineup.

Mendy will replace Marcelo on the left side of the Real Madrid defence, with Dani Carvajal coming in for Alvaro Odriozola on the opposite flank, following disappointing performances by the incumbents last time out against RCD Mallorca. Raphael Varane was rested this past weekend and should return to be Sergio Ramos’s central defensive partner.

Kroos will line up in a three-man midfield, with Federico Valverde replacing Isco, another player who failed to impress on the weekend. Casemiro will complete the three-man midfield unit, sitting at its base once again.

Eden Hazard is back after missing the trip to Mallorca due to the birth of his fourth child. The Belgian winger will return to the lineup straightaway, starting on the left flank, with Vinicius Jr. taking up the place on the opposite wing. Hazard and Vinicius will flank Karim Benzema, who will have a lot riding on him once again.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Mendy; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Vinicius Jr., Benzema, Hazard

Real Madrid

Key Stats

  • Tuesday’s encounter will be the eighth meeting between Galatasaray and Real Madrid. Los Blancos hold the slightest of edges in the head-to-head record so far, winning four of the seven previous meetings (L3).
  • Galatasaray have won just one of their last 17 fixtures in Europe, beating Lokomotiv Moscow in the Group Stage last season (D6 L10).
  • Real Madrid have lost three of their last five UEFA Champions League matches – conceding three or more goals in each of those defeats, and 13 in that five-game sequence.
  • Galatasaray have been victorious in just one of their last 17 games against Spanish opposition (D4 L12). Coincidentally, the sole success came against Real Madrid – a 3-2 win in 2013.
  • Real Madrid are without a Champions League win in three games, their longest sequence without a success since two draws and a defeat in October-November 2012. They last failed to win four successive matches during a five-game winless run between November 2005 and September 2006.

Player to Watch

Steven N’Zonzi

The midfield destroyer. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

The midfield destroyer. (Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

Midfield will hold the key in the game between Galatasaray and Real Madrid. The visitors will look upon Toni Kroos to provide the creative thrust. And, if the hosts are to stop Los Blancos in their tracks, they will need Steven N’Zonzi to be at his solid best.

A familiar opponent for Real Madrid since his days with Sevilla, N’Zonzi has made a decent start to life as a Galatasaray player following a forgettable season with AS Roma. If he can manage to turn back the clock to his time in La Liga, he might as well end up adding to the frustrations of Zinedine Zidane & co.


Galatasaray 1-2 Real Madrid

With just one point apiece from their first two excursions in the Champions League this season, Tuesday’s game becomes a must-win for both Galatasaray and Real Madrid, if they are to harbour hopes of reaching the knockout stages. With the stakes being this high, one can expect the game to be a tightly contested affair.

But, Eden Hazard’s return holds the key for Real Madrid, especially with the Belgian winger starting to hit top form. The margin of error will be negligible at the Turk Telekom Stadium and The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Real Madrid, who will finally grab their first Champions League win of the season.

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