Winless Lions face flagging Borussia Dortmund in Group D
Galatasaray is at a definite disadvantage as it faces Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in their UEFA Champions League Group D match on Wednesday, but all may not be lost, as the German club is riding a string of disappointing results into the fixture.
Dortmund just lost to Cologne in its most recent Bundesliga match, its fifth defeat in eight matches, which prompted coach Jürgen Klopp to brand his own club “pointless” this week.
If ever there were a time for Galatasaray to strike down a mighty German opponent, this would be it. The Lions of the Super League are flying high after defeating rival Fenerbahçe 2-1 on Saturday. Now if only they can channel their positive feelings into a stellar 90 minutes against Dortmund on the same exact pitch on Wednesday, they may be on to something. Besides, Galatasaray overcame Dortmund on the way to its first and only UEFA Cup honor.
But Galatasaray cannot get too carried away. It may be winning at home, but the İstanbul club is facing immense pressure in the Champions League. Besides, Dortmund currently leads the group after breezing past Arsenal 2-0 at home in match one and Anderlecht 3-0 away. The German club is not so pointless on the international stage as it is at home.
So even against a team whose coach admits, “The way we played today just didn’t make sense,” this match will not be easy, and Galatasaray absolutely must start winning in the Champions League. The Lions are in rough shape after drawing 1-1 with Belgian champion Anderlecht at home in match one, before being annihilated by Arsenal 4-1 in London. That puts Galatasaray and Anderlecht at the bottom with one point apiece to Dortmund’s six.
Anderlecht is looking to amend its own victory drought when it faces Arsenal away on Wednesday. In both matches the favorites are clear, and everyone else is playing for an upset.
Whole 90 minutes
Counted among Galatasaray’s few advantages will be Dortmund’s injury list. Turkey midfielder Nuri Şahin and defender Marcel Schmelzer are definitely ruled out, while Jakub Blaszczykowski, Erik Durm and Oliver Kirch are doubtful. Others have returned, but are not yet playing at 100 percent.
“We didn’t really want to start both İlkay [Gündoğan] and Marco [Reus] in this game, or that İlkay would play 90 minutes. But they seem to have come through it OK,” Klopp said in his most positive comment after the defeat at Cologne. Italian Ciro Immobile and Colombian Adrian Ramos are in shape, and each has already scored twice in the group stage.
Coach Cesare Prandelli’s key weapon remains Netherlands national Wesley Sneijder, who proved he is a danger from afar after putting away two long shots against Fenerbahçe this weekend. Turkey striker Burak Yılmaz has scored one in each of Galatasaray’s Champions League group matches, but he is not always so consistent. The Italian coach is struggling with issues of his own, though he was more diplomatic than his counterpart at Dortmund.
“We were a bit shy in the first half,” he noted, a kind way of saying that Galatasaray did next to nothing the entire first half of the Fenerbahçe derby. “Sneijder is a very high quality footballer, and like I always say, he needs to get in the game more because he has an amazing talent for shooting. He showed that more in the final 20 minutes,” Prandelli said.
The whole team must come out of their shells, and for the entire match, because even in its current funk, Dortmund will not be too shy to thoroughly punish a lackluster performance, even if it only lasts half the match.
The match kicks off at Galatasaray’s own Türk Telekom Arena in İstanbul at 9:45 p.m. and will be officiated by Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.