Jose Mourinho will be reunited with two of his most beloved former players as his Real Madrid team face Turkish giants Galatasaray, whose squad will feature Ivorian striker Dider Drogba and Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder. Both men have featured frequently for the charismatic boss in the past, Drogba a key component of Mourinho’s Chelsea and Sneidjer providing the panache for his Champions League winning Inter team in 2010.
One man who will not be featuring in this first-leg clash, however, is iconic goalkeeper Iker Casillas. The Spaniard, who has endured a fractious relationship with Mourinho since he took over at the club in May 2010, is fit again following a spell on the sidelines with a broken hand but has still been omitted from the squad. Diego Lopez is expected to retain his place for this fixture, while Antonio Adan and Jesus Fernandez have also been selected ahead of Casillas to provide the necessary cover.
This fixture should prove a tall order for the visitors, but they will be boosted by their recent away form in this particular competition. Successive victories away from the Al Sami Yen at Cluj, Braga and Schalke suggest they will approach a daunting visit to the Spanish capital with a degree of confidence. This fixture will have particular significance for midfielder Hamit Altintop, who was signed by Madrid in May 2011 but moved on just eleven months later after failing to make an impact under Mourinho’s watchful eye.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
Real Madrid 3 (Raul, Helguera) Galatasaray 0, Champions League, knock-out phase, April 2001
Galatasaray 3 (Davala, Sas, Jardel)) Real Madrid 2 (Helguera, Makelele), Champions League, knock-out phase, April 2001
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Galatasaray’s Burak Yilmaz are tied with Lionel Messi at the top of this season’s Champions League scoring chart. Each man has notched eight goals thus far.
Real Madrid have had 104 attempts on target in this year’s Champions League, more than any other team.
Ronaldo has also produced more shots on goal than any other player with 41.
Galatasaray midfielder Altintop has hit the woodwork three times in this year’s tournament, more than any other player.
Real Madrid to win: 1.18
Galatasaray to win: 20.0
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2 at 7.45pm, highlights on Sky Sports 1 at 12.00am.