Real Madrid will be hoping to consolidate their place at second in Group A of the UEFA Champions League when they welcome Galatasaray to the Bernabeu.
The curtains will fall on Matchday 4 of the Group Stage of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, with 16 teams in action. Former champions Real Madrid will be in action on the day, when they play hosts to Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu, looking to tighten their grip on second spot in Group A.
Real Madrid have blown hot and cold in the first three months of the 2019-20 season. The same has been reflected best in their Champions League campaign, with Los Blancos winning just one of their three games so far in Europe, although the success came in their most recent fixture.
Galatasaray, on the other hand, are the bottom feeders in Group A, having managed to amass just a solitary point after the first three matchdays. The Turkish giants, though, remain within touching distance of Real Madrid, meaning a progression to the knockout stages remains a possibility.
The reverse fixture, played on Matchday 3 at the Turk Telekom Stadium, saw Real Madrid grab a narrow 1-0 win courtesy a first half goal by Toni Kroos. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Zinedine Zidane does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Galatasaray. On Wednesday, the Real Madrid manager will be without four first-team players, with Marco Asensio being a long-term absentee among them.
Other than Asensio, Zidane will also be bereft of the services of Nacho (knee), James Rodriguez (muscular injury) and Gareth Bale (calf). The Real Madrid boss, though, has plenty of firepower in his squad to compensate for the absence of the quartet.
Thibaut Courtois is a certain starter in goal, with the Belgian expected to get the nod over Alphonse Areola once again. There is likely to be one change in defence, however, with Marcelo expected to replace Ferland Mendy on the left side of the Real Madrid defence.
Dani Carvajal will keep his place on the right flank, with Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane forming the central defensive partnership once again. Up ahead in midfield, with Luka Modric only just back, Zidane is likely to manage the Croat’s minutes.
Modric ought to be replaced by Federico Valverde, who will be stationed in Real Madrid’s engine room. Toni Kroos will bear the creative burden for the hosts, with Casemiro playing the Anchor Man role in the middle of the park.
The attacking trifecta is unlikely to be tinkered with, meaning the impressive Rodrygo gets another start. Rodrygo should take his place on the right side of the Real Madrid attack, with Eden Hazard being deployed on the opposite flank. Karim Benzema will lead the line for Los Blancos against Galatasaray.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Valverde, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Hazard
Fatih Terim does not have many pressing concerns on his hands ahead of the trip to face Real Madrid. On Wednesday, the Galatasaray boss will be without just two first-team players, with star summer signing Radamel Falcao being the major absentee. Sener Ozbayrakli is the other player who misses out, due to a thigh complaint.
Fernando Muslera is a certain starter in goal for Galatasaray, with the Uruguayan goalkeeper set to have a crucial role to play on Wednesday. Mariano and Yuto Nagatomo should be the visitors’ full-back pairing, with Marcao and Christian Luyindama forming the central defensive partnership.
Up ahead in midfield, Steven N’Zonzi is expected to return after being rested in the midweek, with Jean Michael Seri and Omer Bayram giving him company in the middle of the park. In Falcao’s absence, Florin Andone will continue leading the line for Galatasaray. Andone will be flanked by Ryan Babel and Younes Belhanda on Wednesday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Muslera; Mariano, Luyindama, Marcao, Nagatomo; Seri, N’Zonzi, Bayram; Belhanda, Andone, Babel
- This will be the eighth UEFA Champions League meeting between Real Madrid and Galatasaray. Of the previous seven, Real Madrid have won five (L2).
- Against no side have Galatasaray lost more Champions League games than Real Madrid (five, level with Barcelona), the latest being their 1-0 defeat on Matchday 3.
- Real Madrid are winless in three Champions League matches at home (D1 L2). Los Blancos have never gone four without a win at Santiago Bernabeu (also three winless games in April 2000 and December 2002).
- Galatasaray are winless in 15 UEFA Champions League matches on the road (D3 L12) since winning 3-2 at FC Schalke 04 in March 2013; it is their worst away winless run in the competition.
- Toni Kroos scored Real Madrid’s winning goal against Galatasaray in their last Champions League game. The German has been directly involved in exactly half of their last 10 group stage goals in the competition (two goals, three assists).
Player to Watch
The competition for some of the positions in the Real Madrid first-team setup is intense. One such position is on the right wing, with Rodrygo Goes the latest player to have staked claim for becoming a regular on the flank.
Competing directly with compatriot Vinicius Jr. among others, there is no room for slacking, seeing as Gareth Bale will also be his competition soon. But, if Rodrygo can continue performing like he has in recent weeks, he could soon be winning the battle to turn out on the right flank for Real Madrid more often than not.
Real Madrid 2-0 Galatasaray
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for Real Madrid in the 2019-20 season. And, as was the case last season, apart from Karim Benzema, goalscoring has not come on a regular basis from other players. With that in mind, for the second successive game against Galatasaray, goals might come at a premium for Los Blancos.
On the other end, Real Madrid are unlikely to be troubled a great deal, considering just how strong they tend to be at home, bar the recent lull. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Zinedine Zidane & co. in a result that takes them closer to a place in the Champions League Round of 16.