Champions League: Gareth Bale to play in top tier of Europe for first time in two years if selected by Real Madrid

Former Tottenham player hopes for Turkish delight as Real Madrid visit Galatasaray

Gareth Bale will make his first Champions League appearance for more than two years tonight if  selected for Real Madrid’s tricky looking visit to Galatasaray.

It was during Tottenham’s Champions League campaign in 2010-11 that Bale made his name on the international stage, scoring a  memorable hat-trick against Internazionale at San Siro.

Bale, of course, is now at Madrid and scored on his debut on Saturday, as his side drew 2-2 at Villarreal. Real  begin their Champions League campaign in Turkey and it will not be easy. Pressure for success is constant at the Bernabeu, especially after a summer in which they have spent €160m (£135m) on Bale, Isco and Asier Illarramendi.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side will have to start well. They have Juventus in their group and so cannot afford to drop too many points to Galatasaray.  The Turkish team have Champions League winners Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder in their ranks and  reached the quarter-finals last year,  where they were beaten 5-3 by Madrid over two legs. In the other game in the group, Copenhagen – coached by former Wolves manager Stale Solbakken – host Antonio Conte’s Juventus.

After two consecutive Serie A titles, and the summer signings of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, Juventus should make a serious  impression in Europe this year. They drew 1-1 at Inter on Saturday.

Bayern Munich begin their defence of the Champions League tonight with a home game against CSKA Moscow. They have started well enough since Pep Guardiola replaced Jupp Heynckes, but are currently two points behind Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and after a lacklustre 2-0 home win over Hannover on Saturday, director of sport Matthias Sammer criticised his own players. “We are playing lethargically at times, playing football without any emotion and just going through the motions,” Sammer said.

The other game in Manchester United’s group is between Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk in San Sebastian.

Shakhtar were excellent last  season, reaching the last 16 – where they lost 5-2 on aggregate to Dortmund – but they have had another summer of change. Fernandinho, Razvan Rat and Henrikh Mkhitaryan have all left, with another set of talented young South Americans stepping in,  including Atletico Mineiro creator Bernard and Internacional’s Fred.

In Group C, big-spending Paris Saint-Germain travel to Olympiakos, while in the other game Benfica, who lost the Europa League final to Chelsea in May, host the Belgians Anderlecht.

Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
peopleActress tells men: 'It's your issue too'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam