Bale targets rare Real win in Germany
Chelsea renew acquaintances with former hero Didier Drogba and an old rival in Roberto Mancini when they go to Istanbul to take on Galatasaray for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Drogba was the hero of Chelsea’s 2012 final victory against Bayern Munich, scoring a late equaliser to force extra-time and then netting the decisive penalty in the shoot-out that followed.
But the powerful Ivorian centre-forward was also one of the cornerstones of Jose Mourinho’s first spell in charge at Stamford Bridge, with the pair arriving at the same time in 2004.
For Mourinho, coming up against Drogba is nothing new - his Real Madrid side beat Galatasaray 5-3 on aggregate in last season’s quarter-finals despite Drogba scoring for the Turks.
The tie will also see the Chelsea manager come up against Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who was the driving force of his Inter side that won the Champions League in 2010 and moved to Istanbul last year.
Beyond the sub-plots, though, Sneijder believes Galatasaray’s inside knowledge on Mourinho’s methods gives them a good chance of springing a surprise.
“Mourinho knows us well and that is an advantage but the same applies for us, we know Mourinho very well, perhaps better than the Chelsea players know us,” said the 29-year-old.
Hostile atmosphere awaits
Over two legs, Chelsea are clear favourites to get the better of Galatasaray, even if the Turkish side progressed from their group at the expense of Juventus and can count on a hostile home support at the 52,000-capacity cauldron of the Turk Telekom Arena.
“We went through in a difficult group with Real Madrid and Juventus and I think it was a miracle,” Mancini said. “Now we are here and I don’t know if we can do another miracle but we want to try. In football never say never.”
Chelsea, whose January signings Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are ineligible to feature in Europe, travelled to Turkey on Monday evening with David Luiz and John Mikel Obi both included in the party despite missing the weekend’s 1-0 win against Everton. Oscar, substituted in that game with an ankle problem, also flew out with the squad.
Real Madrid are targeting a rare win in Germany when they take on Schalke 04 in Wednesday’s other last 16, first-leg clash, the Spanish giants’ Gareth Bale says.
Having scored 20 goals in the group stages, Madrid are looking to improve on their dreadful away record in Germany as they take on Schalke for the first time.
“We know the Champions League is a big competition with all the best teams in it, so we know it is going to be difficult,” said the 24-year-old Wales winger.
But Madrid have prevailed just once in 24 previous away matches against German opposition.
Madrid will be able to call on the firepower of Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who returns from a three-game ban. The injury doubts are left-backs Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao so Alvaro Arbeloa could deputise if neither are fit.
Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos are also expected to return after being suspended and rested respectively at the weekend.
Coach Jens Keller, who hopes to have captain and centre-back Benedikt Hoewedes fit, has said Schalke will not be intimidated by star-studded Real. “We want to pull off a small miracle. We’re not just going out there to swap shirts with Real’s stars,” said Keller defiantly.AFP
We want to pull off a small miracle.