Date:Wednesday February 26 2014
Turk Telekom Arena
'I think they have an 80% chance of going through.' .
Mind games or the thoughts of an honest man? Mancini, like so many other managers on the continent, has some personal issues to attend to with Mourinho but I, for one, hope they can keep that under wraps and let the football take centre stage. Can we be the first English team to score in a European competition in 2014? Can we break the odd hold Mancini teams possess over us? Can the 'little horse' face up to the sensory assault that the Champions League represents? Questions, questions, questions.
It is shaping up to be a magnificent game, a proper combination of nostalgia and enthusiasm as old graces the blaze-trail of new. In terms of ability, there is no denying that Chelsea are favourites. But, as the Blues step out onto the fiery plains of hell this evening, there'll be a few pertinent links to the past that must be overcome to ensure safe passage.
These are dangerous yet oddly exciting times to be a Chelsea fan [Is that ever not the case?] yet I fear for us. If we can navigate Galatasary, I really do think we'll make the final.
The stage is set. The stakes are high. The Champions League has returned.
Mancini- 'They have fantastic players used to playing games like this,'.
'I think they have an 80% chance of going through.'
'They have really good players - these players who can change the game at any moment,'
Mourinho- 'I look forward to every match. I like to play. I am happy to do it, I like to do it against the best and Galatasaray is the Turkish champion. To face Didier Drogba is difficult and a strange feeling but we have to do our job, we know that he wants to do his job. I want to do my job by trying to help the team and he wants to do his by scoring.
'It is a strange feeling to face him.'
We are going to play to win. Galatasaray are strong. They have attacking players, special players. Even on the bench sometimes they have Umut Bulut and he is a very good and very dangerous striker. In between Bulut, Burak Yilmaz and Didier Drogba, they have lots of good goal scorers and we know that.
'We are trying to build a team for the future and the way to do that is not to play an attacking team one day and a defensive team another day, so we will play as we always do - trying to win the game.'
Midfielder Aydın Yılmaz is the only player ruled out for Galatasaray.
Can it be anyone but Didier Drogba? The Chelsea legend has scored 8 goals in 21 appearances in the Turkish League but all eyes will be on him tonight. After an ending that was symptomatic of his time at Chelsea, Drogba gets his first crack at his old team. The Ivorian is still a handful, even at 35, and the Blue's back-line will have to be alert to nullify the aerial and physical threat of Drogba.
Chelsea have a strong contingent to chose from. David Luiz and John Obi Mikel are fit and have travelled to Istanbul. Our young playmaker, Oscar, has also been cleared to play. Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are cup tied.
The young Belgian has been in electrifying form for Chelsea this season, having already beaten his goal tally for last season. He's been instrumental in Chelsea's ascension to the summit of the Premier League and he will have to have a good game tonight. His pace and trickery will be key to unlocking the door and a match-up against Emmanuel Eboue should prove to be fruitful for the 23 year old.
Galatasary Form- WDDWW
Chelsea Form- WLDWW
Score Prediction? It is a hard one but I'm going to go for 2-1 to Chelsea. Ramires and Torres on the score-sheet.
Rizespor vs Galatasary [02/03/2014]
Fulham vs Chelsea [01/03/2014]
Return leg played on 18/03/2014
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Date:Wednesday February 26 2014
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Merlin`s Puzzled! (Tuesday September 2 2014)
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