Turkish giants Galatasaray face an enormous challenge in trying to overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit in front of their own fans this evening. The club’s daunting trip to the Santiago Bernabeu last Wednesday night very quickly became an exercise in damage limitation as a second-half goal from substitute Gonzalo Higuain added to first-half strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
The hosts’ unenviable task is made even tougher by the definite absence of influential striker Burak Yilmaz. 27-year-old Yilmaz, who is tied with Lionel Messi as the second-highest scorer in this season’s Champions League with eight goals, will miss tonight’s clash having been booked for simulation during the first leg. After reviewing pictures that seemed to suggest that Real defender Sergio Ramos did make contact with Yilmaz during the incident in question, Galatasaray appealed against the decision, only to see it swiftly rejected by Uefa’s Control and Disciplinary Committee.
Provided nine-time Champions League winners Real Madrid deal competently with the inevitably ferocious atmosphere that is likely to greet them in Istanbul, then progression to the final four should prove a formality. Jose Mourinho, who is widely expected to leave the club following the climax of the 2012/13 campaign, will be without suspended duo Ramos and former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, who were accused of deliberately earning cautions last week to ensure they would be clear of cards going into the semi-finals. That was the second time such an accusation has been levelled at Madrid after the club were fined €120,000 in 2010 after the same two players appeared to purposely seek second bookings in a Champions League group game against Ajax.
KICK-OFF: Tuesday, 7.45pm
Real Madrid 3 (Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuain) Galatasaray 0, Champions League, knock-out phase, April 2013
Real Madrid 3 (Raul, Helguera) Galatasaray 0, knock-out phase, April 2001
Galatasaray 3 (Davala, Sas, Jardel) Real Madrid 2 (Helguera, Makelele), Champions League, knock-out phase, April 2001
Galatasaray have hit the woodwork on seven occasions during this year’s tournament, more than any other team.
Galatasaray’s Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo has received four yellow cards during this season’s Champions League. Only Malaga’s Manuel Iturra and AC Milan’s Philippe Mexes have received more.
Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria has five assists in the Champions League this season, only Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic (6) has more.
Cristiano Ronaldo has had 45 shots on target in this season’s Champions League, the most in the competition.
Galatasaray to win: 5.1
Real Madrid to win: 1.76
TV: Live on ITV at 7.45pm, highlights on ITV at 10.35pm.